Woman puts feet in good hands to resolve heel pain
A teacher's aid at Lomira Elementary school, Annette Walcheske, a Theresa resident, is on her feet all day long.
"I work with active children in first and third grade. They keep me going! By the end of the day, my feet hurt!"
The heel pain in Annette's right foot, however, was more than just a part of her job. When she was no longer able to enjoy the daily exercise walk that had been her routine for years, Annette turned to Todd Rieter, DPM, a podiatrist at the Aurora Health Center in West Bend. Following x-rays and physical examination, Dr. Rieter diagnosed her with plantar fasciitis, one of the most common causes of heel pain.
"Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a tendon-like structure on the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot," explains Dr. Rieter. "The condition is common in middle age although it can occur in any phase of life. It typically is not caused by injury and seemingly appears out of the blue," says Dr. Rieter.
Sometimes, plantar fasciitis is associated with a heel spur – a bony growth on the underside of the heel bone – or "heel spur syndrome," when there is no indication of bone enlargement, which was the case with Annette.
Non-surgical treatment of plantar fasciitis is usually successful, says Dr. Rieter. Conservative treatment may include cortisone injections, night splints, physical therapy services such as ultrasound, stretching and exercise, orthotic inserts for the shoes and/or oral anti-inflammatory medication. Others benefit from a relatively new treatment that uses sound waves directed at the heel pain called extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT). In very rare cases, surgery may be needed to permanently resolve heel pain.
"We tried a cortisone shot and that initially worked wonders," says Annette.
When the effects wore off after a few weeks, however, Dr. Rieter asked her to try physical therapy to break the cycle of pain and prevent recurrences.
"I was skeptical at first," Annette recalls, "but after just a few PT sessions… Oh my gosh, I was so amazed! The physical therapists at the Aurora Rehabilitation Center in West Bend were absolutely wonderful. They massaged my foot and taught me a stretching routine I now do every day," she reports.
Dr. Rieter also ordered custom orthotic inserts to further help Annette's recovery.
"I feel just great now," Annette says. "I get through the day at work without problem and have resumed walking for exercise again. I couldn't be happier."
If you suffer from heel pain, don't let it become a routine part of your life. The sooner you learn the cause, the sooner you'll be on your feet again. In addition to plantar fasciitis, other common causes of heel pain include stress fractures, nerve entrapment, arthritis, and in very rare cases, a bone tumor.
A fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, Dr. Rieter brings more than a decade of experience to patients who need specialized care for a wide range of podiatric problems. His practice philosophy emphasizes the importance of patient involvement in all aspects of their care.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Rieter, call the Aurora Health Center in West Bend at 262-338-1123.