Continuing with our series on the physical, emotional, and financial costs of various foot-related conditions, this month we are going to focus on one of the most common, yet most complex of foot problems. Heel pain. There are over 40 possible diagnoses for heel pain, only one of which is plantar fasciitis.
Yet there are tens of thousands of members in Facebook forums dedicated specifically to plantarfasciitis and a Google search for ‘heel pain’ produces over 127 million results! Amongst all that online information there will be plenty of good resources and accurate information, but there will also be an unhealthy & unhelpful amount of the opposite too. One aspect that doesn’t get highlighted though are the costs associated with heel pain, hence this article.
There is no doubt about it – heel pain can be debilitating. Our heels are such an important part of normal walking, with something like 1½ times body weight going through the heel as it strikes the ground. So any pain in the heel area will cause issues, from an awareness of discomfort to a compete inability to put any weight on it. Sometimes it can even affect both heels at the same time, which causes serious mobility problems. The automatic response is to reduce the activity that causes the pain, so less steps taken which frequently results in weight gain, which then increases the load on the problem area. This process is self-perpetuating taking the sufferer further away from recovery rather than closer towards it.
This downhill spiral really can take its toll as the heel pain continues for weeks, months, even years & decades. Depression and frustration are common with prolonged heel pain with reduced ability to carry out normal activities from cooking to playing with children/grandchildren. Sports and hobbies are hindered or even stopped, and quality of life is significantly affected. However all too often those who have never experienced heel pain struggle to comprehend the effects it has so sympathy, empathy, & understanding from friends, family & colleagues can be lacking, even leading to isolation and loneliness. It’s no wonder that I hear some sufferers mention amputation of the painful foot as they grasp for any possible relief from the pain.
Repeated episodes of days off work with heel pain over prolonged periods of time can bring a financial burden, especially if it results in a change of occupation when treatments aren’t effective. Spending on low level interventions such as heel pads, different footwear, over-the-counter insoles/orthotics, pain-relief medication & prescriptions can all escalate. Access to good NHS services to help does seem to be a postcode lottery, with the free treatments available through that resulting in patients being passed from one service to another in the hope of finding the one intervention that works with a variable number of treatment options available. However, that variability extends to the private sector so you need to choose wisely if you are seeking private treatment for heel pain. There are 3 key areas to achieve resolution – an in depth assessment of the heel pain, accurate diagnosis, and an individualised progressive treatment plan ideally from somewhere or someone that has plenty of tools in their toolbox to help. If there are shortcuts taken in any of those key areas, then the results will not be consistently achieved, and money can be wasted very easily on ineffective interventions. Due to the number of possible diagnoses and the variability of required assessments & treatments, it would take a much longer article to explore all the possible costs of private healthcare for heel pain. Instead I will just give some average figures from our clinic for resolving plantar fasciitis. The vast majority of patients only require a package of care without advanced therapies (shockwave / laser treatment / steroid injections / bespoke orthotics) and spend less than £500 to achieve resolution. A small proportion require some form of advanced therapy from us which can add on £150 – £400. Then the occasional patient requires some combination of our advanced therapies so the total spend could be £1000+. But then again, our feet are worth it as we only get one pair!
For lots of help with heel pain & plantarfasciitis visit www.healthfirstsoutham.co.uk/pods-heal-heels-campaign/
This is just one of the many great reviews on this subject:
Very professional and friendly service, perfectly suited to my need. Highly recommended. Before consulting I was in bad pain from plantar fascitis/fasciosis which seemed to come out of the blue and got worse and worse, with no end in sight. However after only a few consultations I was out of acute pain and gradually moving onto stretching and strengthening exercises, with a realistic plan to get back into running! Thank you Jonathan. A.M. from Rugby