Procedure helps patients overcome debilitating heel pain

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – If you’ve ever experienced heel pain, you’re not alone.

The most common cause is a condition called plantar fasciitis.

Now there’s a minimally invasive procedure that can offer patients much needed relief.

In his job with a local contractor, 55-year-old John Kennedy is on his feet all day.

“Back and forth with the warehouse, carrying items and everything and also at home working out, I’m constantly on my feet,” he said.

Then one day Kennedy started having severe pain in his left foot.

“Every time I’d get out of bed in the middle of the night it was excruciating pain,” he said.

Dr. Michael Dakkak, a sports medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic Weston said Kennedy had a severe case of plantar fasciitis.

“Plantar fasciitis is pain along the medial part or inside part of the heel and typically it’s worse with the first few steps in the morning and as the day goes on it gets a little better but by the end of the day patients are not wanting to stand on their feet because of the pain,” Dakkak said.

Dakkak said risk factors include a decrease in mobility of the ankle or tightness in the calf muscle.

The arch of the foot, either too high or too flat, can also increase the risk, he said.

And being overweight puts more stress on the fascia of the foot, increasing the risk.

“Millions of Americans are affected every year by this and up to 10 percent of the population at any point in their life can be affected by this condition,” Dakkak said.

When cortisone injections and immobilization failed to give Kennedy relief, and he didn’t want to undergo invasive surgery, Dakkak offered him a newer, less aggressive ultrasound guided option.

“The procedure we’re talking about is percutaneous fasciotomy which involves a tiny incision that doesn’t even need stitches and is done under local anesthesia meaning the patient is entirely awake during the duration of the procedure,” Dakkak said.

After a couple of weeks of recovery and physical therapy, Kennedy is now comfortably back on his feet.

“I’d say I’m now back to 95 percent, easily, pain free,” he said.

Dakkak said success rates of the procedure are similar to more invasive surgery and it can also be used in some cases for shoulder pain.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.