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Heel cords

Posted by J. King on 5/12/02 at 06:32 (083590)

Has anybody had a procedure where the heel cords are cut to relieve pressure. My arch is high and heel cords are very tight. I have tried stretching but it just makes it worse. I don't have heel pain. My arches are very painful however. I wear orthotics to no avail. I wonder if my arches would collapse if heel cords were cut?

Re: Heel cords

Carole C in NOLA on 5/12/02 at 08:25 (083595)

J, I posted in response to you in the 'Ask the Foot Doctors' board but in case you didn't see it, I want to answer you here too.

I have fairly high arches and my heel cords were very tight and painful also. I too have had pain in my arches, as well as heel pain and pain on the side of my foot, but sometimes it was just in my arches too. Your symptoms sound very similar to mine, and I have heel spurs, plantar fasciitis ('PF'), tendonitis, and bursitis (all of which often occur together as a syndrome). Did you have a similar diagnosis? I would think that probably you did.

You mentioned not stretching because it worsens the pain. This is an indication that you are not stretching GENTLY enough. You have to start really, really slow and gently (at least I did). Some foot professionals routinely recommend stretches that are much too severe for those of us with very tight heel cords so I would urge you to try the following before considering surgery.

My C.Ped started me out in stretching by having me sit on my bed with my legs out in front of me. Then, gently point my toes inwards and upwards (basically towards my nose. Hold for 30 seconds (I could only do this for 5-10 seconds at first, and then worked up to 30 seconds). Then do it with the other foot. Do this before getting out of bed, and several times during the day.

Don't do anything that hurts! If this hurts, point your toes more gently (less vigorously). Even very gentle stretching can help get you started in stretching, and in the days to follow you will be able to do more.

Eventually, after several MONTHS of toe pointing, I was able to grab my toes and pull gently. I still have never done any standing (weight bearing) stretches. My heel cords have loosened up a tremendous amount and my PF is nearly healed. Although in December and January I was truly in agonizing pain, now I am pretty much recovered and able to go about my normal life with little to no pain. I hope this gentle stretching (along with other conservative treatments) works for you too, which is why I'm writing this post.

I don't know how many of the other conservative treatments you have tried, so I will describe some that you should try before considering surgery. Conservative treatments (non-surgical treatments) have a greater success rate than surgery.

Other things that you need to do are to never, ever go barefoot, not even in the shower, until you have recovered. Wear shower shoes, and/or use a shower stool. While your pain is acute you should ice your feet daily to reduce the swelling. I rest my feet on a bag of frozen peas and that works quite well. I am a bit 'chicken' about cold, so I ice them 4-5 minutes or until it starts feeling uncomfortable, and then take them off for a minute, and then repeat a number of times for about a half hour. Other people ice for longer periods of time before removing their feet from the cold. Your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatories as well. Rest your feet as much as possible, so they can heal. Avoid stairs and lifting heavy things.

Read the heel pain book on this website for more suggestions. I found that custom orthotics and Birkenstocks were all I could wear on my feet until I felt better. If your orthotics are custom made for your feet and they don't help, then they may need to be adjusted. Some people get good results from taping, which is described and illustrated in the heel pain book (I never tried it). You will probably need a night splint if you can't get the stretching to work.

Good luck, and I sincerely wish you feet that are free of pain!

Carole C

Re: Heel cords

Ed Davis, DPM on 5/14/02 at 21:32 (083936)

Your achilles tendons (heel cords) are necessary to walk. No surgeon would ever cut them.

Lenthening the heel cords surgically is a reasonable procedure when it is not possible to gain adequate length by conservative menas.
Ed

Re: Heel cords

Carole C in NOLA on 5/12/02 at 08:25 (083595)

J, I posted in response to you in the 'Ask the Foot Doctors' board but in case you didn't see it, I want to answer you here too.

I have fairly high arches and my heel cords were very tight and painful also. I too have had pain in my arches, as well as heel pain and pain on the side of my foot, but sometimes it was just in my arches too. Your symptoms sound very similar to mine, and I have heel spurs, plantar fasciitis ('PF'), tendonitis, and bursitis (all of which often occur together as a syndrome). Did you have a similar diagnosis? I would think that probably you did.

You mentioned not stretching because it worsens the pain. This is an indication that you are not stretching GENTLY enough. You have to start really, really slow and gently (at least I did). Some foot professionals routinely recommend stretches that are much too severe for those of us with very tight heel cords so I would urge you to try the following before considering surgery.

My C.Ped started me out in stretching by having me sit on my bed with my legs out in front of me. Then, gently point my toes inwards and upwards (basically towards my nose. Hold for 30 seconds (I could only do this for 5-10 seconds at first, and then worked up to 30 seconds). Then do it with the other foot. Do this before getting out of bed, and several times during the day.

Don't do anything that hurts! If this hurts, point your toes more gently (less vigorously). Even very gentle stretching can help get you started in stretching, and in the days to follow you will be able to do more.

Eventually, after several MONTHS of toe pointing, I was able to grab my toes and pull gently. I still have never done any standing (weight bearing) stretches. My heel cords have loosened up a tremendous amount and my PF is nearly healed. Although in December and January I was truly in agonizing pain, now I am pretty much recovered and able to go about my normal life with little to no pain. I hope this gentle stretching (along with other conservative treatments) works for you too, which is why I'm writing this post.

I don't know how many of the other conservative treatments you have tried, so I will describe some that you should try before considering surgery. Conservative treatments (non-surgical treatments) have a greater success rate than surgery.

Other things that you need to do are to never, ever go barefoot, not even in the shower, until you have recovered. Wear shower shoes, and/or use a shower stool. While your pain is acute you should ice your feet daily to reduce the swelling. I rest my feet on a bag of frozen peas and that works quite well. I am a bit 'chicken' about cold, so I ice them 4-5 minutes or until it starts feeling uncomfortable, and then take them off for a minute, and then repeat a number of times for about a half hour. Other people ice for longer periods of time before removing their feet from the cold. Your doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatories as well. Rest your feet as much as possible, so they can heal. Avoid stairs and lifting heavy things.

Read the heel pain book on this website for more suggestions. I found that custom orthotics and Birkenstocks were all I could wear on my feet until I felt better. If your orthotics are custom made for your feet and they don't help, then they may need to be adjusted. Some people get good results from taping, which is described and illustrated in the heel pain book (I never tried it). You will probably need a night splint if you can't get the stretching to work.

Good luck, and I sincerely wish you feet that are free of pain!

Carole C

Re: Heel cords

Ed Davis, DPM on 5/14/02 at 21:32 (083936)

Your achilles tendons (heel cords) are necessary to walk. No surgeon would ever cut them.

Lenthening the heel cords surgically is a reasonable procedure when it is not possible to gain adequate length by conservative menas.
Ed