How To Deal With Below-The-Heel Pain

Every now and then each one of us will experience some sort of foot pain. Whether it’s because we’re walking longer distances than we’re used to or maybe because we stepped down too hard on a rough surface, foot pain is an experience that will make you very appreciative of reuniting with your couch! For those of us who experience pain below our heels, knowing how to tell if it’s time to see a doctor about that discomfort can be difficult. Sadly, many people become so used to pain below the heel that they simply accept it as a way of life! It doesn’t have to be that way.

Most of the time, pain below the heel is found to be plantar fasciitis. When you have plantar fasciitis it means that somewhere along where the long and large ligament is attached to the base of your heel has become irritated, damaged, or torn. Oftentimes the pain of plantar fasciitis will begin merely as a mild pain to the arch of the foot or the bottom of the heel. Many people who experience plantar fasciitis note that the first few steps in the morning are the most painful, then over the course of the day the discomfort eases to a dull ache. As you can imagine, this contributes to why it takes some people a lot longer to address it with their doctor! For others, plantar fasciitis might begin as a mild pain but quickly develops into something much more uncomfortable.

Plantar fasciitis can also be triggered due to a spur developing on the heel bone. Heel spurs can sometimes cause plantar fasciitis to go undiagnosed because the pain the patient is experiencing is attributed to the spur, rather than the spur being seen as the cause of the fasciitis. Since sometimes plantar fasciitis symptoms start out as mild pain in the arch of the foot, rather than below the heel, it can be difficult to figure out how to make yourself feel better at home.

Skip the uncertainty and have your feet checked out by a trusted podiatrist instead! Take the next best step and reach out to your trusted podiatrist. Ask Dr. Scott McKinney at your next appointment what options are available for you. Send us a message or call us today at (713) 946-1500 to get penciled in at one of our 8 convenient locations in the Houston area and surrounding towns.

Foot 101: Plantar Fasciitis

Though the top three most common issues to arise with our feet are bunions, calluses, and corns, other foot related issues are still common and just as troublesome to experience! Plantar fasciitis, for example, is when the tendon along the bottom of your feet are damaged. This damage can happen due to a traumatic injury or it can develop over time from over use of the tendon or ill fitting, non-supportive shoes. The pain of plantar fasciitis can be mild to severe and greatly impact your ability to walk.

As a coping mechanism, many people will change the way they walk to avoid or decrease the discomfort associated with their plantar pain. When it goes untreated for long periods of time, sometimes plantar fasciitis can lead to developing a bone spur on the heel where the tendon meets the heel bone. At this point, walking can be too painful to bare and it is likely that the sufferer would already be on their way to their podiatrist for relief!

If you ever find yourself experiencing plantar pain, the first step is to see your podiatrist. Your specialized and trained podiatrist will be able to examine your feet and let you know the options that you have for treatment–from orthotics to surgical intervention. In the meantime, try to find shoes which focus on arch and ankle support. It isn’t a cure, but it will help decrease your pain and discomfort until you and your podiatrist have a closer look at your feet.

At your next appointment with our doctors at McKinney Podiatric Associates, be proactive and ask any questions you may have lingering! To learn more, message us conveniently online or call us today at (713) 946-1500 to schedule your next appointment with Dr. McKinney and associates at one of our 8 convenient locations in the Houston area and surrounding towns.

The Weight Loss & Foot Pain Connection

While the past few generations have yielded admirable results, the United States has infamously known for its problem with obesity. With our culture’s habits around food and dining, it’s no wonder we tend to weigh on the heavier side-but did you know that even just being 25 lbs. overweight can lead to foot pain and problems? Besides the obvious benefits of developing healthier eating and exercise habits, like feeling better and curbing our vulnerability to developing conditions like diabetes or heart disease, weight loss yields an unsuspected benefit to the health of our feet. When your feet are doing less work and carrying around less weight, this can mean less pain and discomfort for you! Who wouldn’t want that? Excess weight can negatively impact our foot health in a few key ways

  • Feet: Excess weight can, over time, put so much pressure on the many bones of our feet that it weakens our arches and begins to flatten them. Many issues can arise from flat feet, such as decreased flexibility and stability of the feet.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: Something you never want to experience is severe plantar fasciitis-sufferers have been known to describe it as a sharp, stabbing, and burning sensation on the bottoms of their feet. This can happen when excess weight causes the fragile tissues connected to our heel become strained, inflamed, weak, and swollen.
  • Osteoarthritis: Carrying extra weight can also cause the cartilage in our joints to wear down more quickly, leading to pain and stiffness that make it difficult to get active. While aging is the leading cause of developing osteoarthritis, excess weight is a close runner up.
  • Tendinitis: Giving the tendons in our feet more work to do on a daily basis can cause them to become irritated or inflamed. This leads to pain and tenderness that can happen all over the body, but excess weight can cause it to localize in our feet.

But enough about the risks that excess weight can have on your foot health–let’s talk about how weight loss can help your feet become healthier! If you have existing foot issues, or you would like to be smart and proactive about your foot health, it’s time to visit Dr. Scott McKinney at McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. At your next appointment with us, be sure to ask about any recommendations for your pedicure experience based on your personal history of foot health. Call us today at (713) 946-1500 to schedule an appointment at one of our 8 convenient locations in the Houston area!

Work Related Weary Feet

Do your feet ache on a regular basis?  Do you have a job that keeps you on your feet all day long?  If so, there are some things you can do to help relieve the discomfort.  I don’t have to tell you how exhausted you can get from the long days on your feet.  Especially when you don’t get many chances to get off them and take a rest.  Some days they throb and ache in the evenings.  And unfortunately, this wear and tear can have more adverse effects on your feet than everyday aches and pains.

Besides symptoms like discomfort, fatigue and swelling in the legs, you also put yourself greatly at risk for musculoskeletal disorders.  Due to the strain on the feet, this spreads to the shins, calves, knees, thighs, hips and lower back.  Also, you may find yourself facing some serious health concerns in the future.

People that experience long periods of prolonged standing daily can experience coronary heart disease, varicose veins, and chronic venous insufficiency.  Work associated back pain is about twice as common in those who work standing compared to those who usually work sitting.  As people age, it gets harder for them to cope with constant standing, too.  They can develop or exacerbate arthritis, and get varicose veins.

So, the effects of standing all day can show up almost right away, and prolonged standing or walking can accelerate soft tissue injuries and health problems.  The list is long as to the damage that can be done!  It includes…

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Muscle soreness and fatigue
  • Varicose veins
  • Lower back pain
  • Knee or hip arthritis
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Bunions
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness and pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Swollen or painful feet or legs
  • Various foot problems and pain
  • Circulatory and chronic heart disorders
  • Joint damage
  • Poor circulation in feet, which can lead to edema

The moral of this story is: if you must stand on your feet throughout the day because of your job, be sure to take breaks whenever possible to sit down!  Good luck, and if you do need some help with a foot issue, McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. skilled team have 8 Houston locations available for consultation & treatment of your foot or ankle woes!  Contact us!

Essential Oils for the Heels

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that causes chronic heel pain.  Many of the treatments that are out there have side effects a person might want to avoid- steroids, prescription drugs, surgery… the options aren’t always the greatest.  So, many people look for alternative treatments to deal with it.  Essential oils is a popular choice we are seeing these days.  Some of the essential oils that can be used to treat this condition are:

  • Frankincense
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Grapeseed oil

Usually, the sufferer will apply the oil directly onto the inflamed tissue and massage the oils into the affected area.  They may also ingest the essential oils, as well.

People suffering from plantar fasciitis are often frustrated with this condition, hence the search for alternative methods for dealing with pain.  Your podiatrist should definitely assess the condition and advise what he or she thinks is the best route to go.  As far as essential oils go, some people swear by them, but there isn’t really any actual research to back up claims that essential oils can be used to effectively treat the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Due to this condition caused by wear and strain to the fascia, small tears and inflammation develop over time, due to improper support of the arch (fascia)- which is what leads to the heel pain.  Since this is the situation, the best way to treat it is to strengthen, cushion and support the base of the ligament.  So, if you’re suffering, you may want to try a combination of a visit to the podiatrist, the use of essential oils, and a change in footwear!  Also, the use of inserts can really reduce pain.  Using orthotic supports that the doctor sets you up with can make a big difference.

So, don’t let that heel pain get the best of you.  Call Dr. Scott McKinney and his team of board certified doctors to have a look at it. He has 8 different convenient locations in the Houston area to visit.  Any foot or ankle issue you are experiencing, he and his team can help!

Are Heel Spurs the Problem?

Recently, we had a patient come in to see us that was complaining that her heels were hurting her.  She said that even in some sneakers, she had pain.  She wasn’t sure what the problem was… however, she had noticed that her heel appeared to have a bumpy protrusion on it.  What she was experiencing is something we know as “heel spurs”.  Heel spurs are calcium deposits that cause a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone.  If you look at it on an x-ray, you can see that the heel spur can extend forward by as much a half-inch!  Sometimes, heel spurs are painless, but other times they can cause heel pain.  They can definitely add to some discomfort when walking, and wearing many types of shoes.

Occasionally a heel spur doesn’t show up on an x-ray, and this condition is known as “heel spur syndrome”.  Heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, which is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia (the fibrous band of connective tissue) that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.  They are often caused by strains on the foot muscles and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone.  For this reason, heel spurs are very common among athletes whose activities include large amounts of jumping and running.  If you are doing the following things, you are more at risk for heel spurs occurring…

  • If your walking gait tends to have you placing excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves near the heel.
  • If you wear poorly fitted or very worn out shoes, especially ones lacking appropriate arch support.
  • If you are carrying a lot of extra weight… obese people are more prone to heel spurs than people of average weight.
  • If you run and jog a lot, especially on hard surfaces.

The treatments associated with heel spurs and associated conditions include:

  • Exercise
  • Custom-made orthotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Cortisone injections
  • Surgery, if all other treatments fail

If you are having any problems with heel pain, and you suspect heel spurs, help is only a phone call away.  Call Dr. Scott McKinney, he and his team of board certified podiatrists have 8 convenient locations in the Houston Area for patients to visit.

Listen up, Your Feet are Talking!

Did you know that our feet give us many, many clues about other things happening in our bodies?!  Well, they do!  Often, things happening to your feet can be indicative of more serious medical conditions. When changes occur in your feet and become chronic issues that you’re experiencing, your feet may be trying to tell you something!  Don’t ignore them!  At the offices of McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. and our board certified team, we see many patients who come in complaining of foot woes.  Sometimes, these issues ARE foot specific, however, other times, the feet are windows into the rest of the body’s issues.  Some of the things our feet can say to us about things happening in our bodies are exhibited by the following:

  • Numbness and Tingling: if this is happening in one or both of your feet, this can be indicative of Peripheral Neuropathy (a condition that diabetics experience).  Although, if you have numbness or tingles in just one foot, you could be suffering from a pinched nerve.
  • Foot Cramps: Are often an indication of dehydration!  However, if fluid intake is not the culprit, foot cramps can also indicate that your body is experiencing a potassium deficiency.
  • Cold Feet: If your feet are always freezing, this could mean you have a slow thyroid… hypothyroidism usually rears its ugly head in the beginning with chronic cold feet.
  • Flaky Feet: Can be a sign that you have a fungal infection or athlete’s foot.
  • Heel Pain: If you have sharp pains that shoot up your heel, into your calf, you probably have a condition called “plantar fasciitis”, which is a strain on the ligament of the foot that supports the arch.
  • A Swollen Big Toe: If your big toe swells up out of the blue, you may be suffering from gout.  This makes the toe red, hot, swollen, and painful!
  • Discoloration of the Toenails: Can be indicative of a nasty nail fungus!  McKinney can treat this issue with an anti-fungal treatment.

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned conditions, contact McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. at any of our eight convenient Houston locations and request an appointment.   Don’t ignore your foot issues, as they may be trying to tell you something important about your overall health!