By Dr. Michelle Vi Nguyen

I recall sitting across from my clinical instructor at a circular table for my “Introduction to Podiatric Medicine” class during my second year of podiatry school. We were taking turns individually reviewing clinical vignettes when he locked eyes on me:

“Michelle! 53 year-old male, 2 weeks after a total hip replacement starts rehab. He develops heel pain shortly after his first therapy session. Diagnosis?”

With my most excited voice, I exclaimed, “PLANTAR FASCIITIS!”

Oh boy… I was humbled by the stern lecture that followed.

If you type “heel pain” into any search engine, I guarantee at least one link will lead to a page on plantar fasciitis. As podiatrists, we see heel pain patients every single day.

Often, plantar fasciitis is the culprit! Other conditions, however, can also cause heel pain. Some examples include Achilles tendinitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, apophysitis, and stress fracture. This list is not all-inclusive, but it conveys the abundance of other possible reasons for heel pain.

It is imperative that patients seek the care of their local podiatrist to discuss their heel pain. Our practice employs a comprehensive work up protocol which includes symptom review, in office x-rays, and gait evaluation. We are fortunate to be equipped with many treatment options to serve our patients. Our services include medical grade orthotics, braces, boots, injections, and stretching/icing protocols, just to name a few.

The most common diagnosis for heel pain is indeed plantar fasciitis. But, by no means is it the only diagnosis. Other conditions are neglected and wrongly treated when the assumption of plantar fasciitis is held as the absolute. In the absence of a foot and ankle specialist, diagnosing ALL heel pain as plantar fasciitis makes you no better than Dr. Google!

If you are experiencing heel pain that is preventing you from exercising or living the life you want, give us a call at 512-447-4122 and make an appointment. We are happy to help!