Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Heel Surgery
At McVay Foot & Ankle, we’re always accepting new patients, and love meeting new people.
But far too often, we don’t see patients until after they’ve been suffering from a treatable problem like heel pain for months, or maybe even years. Instead of getting the prompt help they need, they’ll wait until pain is daily, intense, and impairing their regular activities to a significant degree.
“Why didn’t you come see us sooner?” we ask.
“I was worried about what the treatment might be,” we often hear. “I was afraid I’d need heel surgery.”
Well, we certainly can relate to that feeling of anxiety. We’ve all felt it at one point or another.
But here’s the great news: You don’t have to worry about heel surgery!
Why not? Because at every step of the heel pain treatment process, the team at McVay Foot & Ankle will use the best, most advanced, and least invasive methods possible to help you recover.
The vast majority of heel pain cases do not require surgery. And even those that do will be handled with utmost care and advanced training so that you heal and recover fully and quickly.
We Will Always Exhaust Nonsurgical Options When Applicable
Even though Dr. McVay is a highly accomplished foot and ankle surgeon, we will never rush anyone to surgery. If it’s possible to treat your pain noninvasively, it is our strong preference to do so.
We’re guessing that’s probably your preference, too!
Fortunately, most heel pain symptoms and heel pain conditions can be resolved conservatively—and sometimes even mostly through home care. This is true even for conditions like heel spurs.
At our initial appointment, we’ll talk with you about your symptoms and your condition, and ask some important questions. For example:
- Where does it hurt?
- When did you first notice it?
- How have symptoms progressed?
- When is the pain the worst?
- What kinds of activities are you no longer able to do comfortably, but would like to?
Your answers to these and other questions, as well as a comprehensive physical examination, will help us determine what’s really causing your pain—not just a medical diagnosis, like plantar fasciitis or stress fractures, but why you have it, and what you may still be doing to aggravate it.
Armed with that information, we’ll customize a non-surgical treatment plan that we believe will have the best chance of success for you. This may include components such as:
- RICE therapy—rest, ice, compression, elevation. In other words, rest your feet by avoiding specific activities that aggravate them (running, for example) and control pain and swelling through a combination of ice, compression wraps, and elevation.
- Medications—Often an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, can help you manage spikes in pain. If necessary, we can prescribe stronger medications.
- New shoes—If your heel pain is directly related to wearing the wrong size or type of shoes for your activities, a better pair may be all you really need to alleviate the problem.
- Orthotics—In some cases, the fundamental structure of your feet may make you more prone to developing foot pain. In other words, you’ve got a wobbly foundation. We can supply you with appropriate arch support, or if necessary custom orthotics, that will support, cushion, and stabilize your feet so they don’t hurt anymore when you walk.
- Physical therapy—Often times, specific exercises can relieve heel pain and prevent future injuries by improving the strength and flexibility in muscles, tendons, and other structures that surround, support, or attach to the heel bone.
- Corticosteroid injection—A shot of cortisone into the inflamed heel can often provide lasting pain relief.
In well over 90 percent of heel pain cases, some combination of conservative treatments is able to bring about full healing and symptom relief.
If You Do Need Surgery, We Promise the Highest Standard of Care
A small minority of heel pain cases may ultimately require a surgical procedure—only about 5 percent at most.
As we said, we do not rush into surgery. For heel pain surgery in particular, it’s usually only considered under a fairly specific set of circumstances:
- You’ve been experiencing heel pain for several months.
- You’ve attempted home care, as well as pursued all applicable conservative treatment options without success.
- Your pain is still occurring frequently and is severe enough to interfere with daily activities, or prevents you from enjoying specific activities that are important to you (such as running, tennis, hiking, etc.)
However, even if you’re one of the relatively unlikely 5% and meet the criteria for heel surgery, you still don’t have to be afraid.
That’s because, with Dr. Jeremy McVay, you’re in extremely good hands. He’s a highly skilled surgeon, certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and trained in advanced procedures (including minimally invasive arthroscopic and endoscopic surgery).
Most heel surgeries can, in fact, be conducted using these minimally invasive procedures, such as endoscopic plantar fasciotomies. Smaller incisions mean less trauma and scarring to the tissue. You heal faster, recover faster, and are far less likely to develop infections or complications (such as nerve damage) versus more traditional open surgeries.
There’s another important reason you don’t have to worry: We’re going to be with you every step of the way to ensure that you have all the information, instructions, and support you need to make a successful and quick recovery.
Because the truth is, even if you hire the best surgeon in the world, you aren’t going to get great results unless you understand what’s going on and are properly prepared to manage your own aftercare.
From spending time in the office with you and answering all your questions, to being available by phone to answer your questions, providing you and your caregivers with printed instructions, and even coordinating with other members of your medical team, we’re there for you.
So don’t be afraid to see us about your heel pain! We will always go the extra mile for our patients to make the entire treatment process as simple and effective as possible—whether or not surgery is ultimately required.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. McVay, please give us a call today at (719) 266-5000.