The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NYC Foot Surgery Success Story: Runner With Heel Pain Finds Relief

Posted by on Monday, January 2nd, 2017

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The decision to undergo surgery is one of the most difficult choices a person has to make. We do not take NYC foot surgery lightly. Our clients are busy and can’t afford the downtime. Whenever possible, we look into conservative measures that resolve pain and restore functionality.

heel pain stretches
Sometimes the answer to heel pain is to avoid overthinking it and start with the basics. (Image Source: PlantarFasciitisShoesExpert.com)

Yet, in some cases, our NYC sports doctors have found that foot and ankle surgeries were the best course of action to alleviate pain and restore functionality. New procedures and tools have made surgery less invasive and less “scary.” Here’s one of our many success stories …

Do Conservative Measures Work For Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

“I had this one runner come to me for help,” Dr. Katherine Lai, DPM recalls. “The runner had plantar fasciitis that wasn’t responding to any conservative treatment.” Plantar fasciitis is the structural degradation of soft tissue in the heel, where it connects to the arch, caused by overuse that occurs over a period of eight to 10 weeks. Under a microscope, doctors may find disorganized collagen fibers, calcium deposits in the connective tissue, and weakened tissue.

Early interventions for heel pain may include:

  • Orthotics – If heel pain is related to a gait abnormality, it may resolve the issue.  
  • Shockwave treatments – If heel pain is related to disorganized collagen and connective tissue, we can use machines to trigger your body’s natural rebuilding processes.
  • Stretching – If heel pain is related to weakened tissue, we can sometimes strengthen it through stretching and gentle exercise.

Sometimes these simple measures work. Sometimes they don’t.  “About 90 percent of cases resolve with conservative measures,” Dr. Lai adds, “but we do run across stubborn cases that need a little extra TLC.”

Why Do Non-Invasive Heel Pain Treatments Fail?

“Sometimes, as in this particular case, we find that the tissue has degraded and weakened so bad over time that it’s sort of like an overstretched rubberband,” Dr. Lai explains. “There is no way to gently manipulate that rubber-band back into shape again. You have to remove the damaged portion and attach it back together again to get the old ‘snap’.”

Prior to surgery, there are other options that exist here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. We can give patients cortisone shots if we suspect chronic inflammation is preventing the body from doing its job and healing the area. We can give platelet rich plasma injections if we think the body needs a boost of healing factors and fresh blood to the injured area. We have MLS lasers to alleviate the pain while healing takes place. Yet, these treatments are not always covered by insurance, so some patients would rather just have the surgery.

How NYC Foot Surgery Helped A Runner With Chronic Heel Pain

Ultimately, we settled on surgical micro-debridement of the plantar fascia using the Tenex procedure. During this surgery, we numb the area with a topical anesthetic before making a tiny incision. We use a special tool that combines ultrasound imaging and a gentle ultrasonic energy applicator. The severely damaged tissue is broken up and reabsorbed by the body and excreted like any other toxin. After a short time, we apply a small adhesive bandage to close the opening.

“Like most people, my runner found it difficult to stay off the foot post-surgery,” Dr. Lai recalls. “The patient was pretty much on it constantly, so it took a couple of months for the pain to go away.” The more you can offload pressure, prop up your foot, ice to keep down inflammation, and abstain from a lot of standing or running — the better! “Eventually, my patient was able to get back to running without pain, so it was rewarding to see after such a long period of being stuck in a rut.”

Is heel pain getting you down? Explore the widest range of plantar fasciitis treatment options at our offices in Manhattan or White Plains, NY. You may call the offices directly or book your appointment online.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.