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Many of us are welcoming the warmer weather sporting flip-flops; however, their popularity is responsible for a growing epidemic of heel pain in this population, according to Dr. Mia Horvath, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

“We’re seeing more heel pain than ever,” says Dr. Horvath. “A major contributor is wearing flip-flop sandals with paper-thin soles every day. Many flip-flops have no arch support and can accentuate any abnormal biomechanics in foot motion, and this eventually brings pain and inflammation.”

While she doesn’t recommend this type of footwear, she understands that people are going to wear flip-flops, especially in the hot summer months.  Her office carries a line of flip-flops that incorporate special features that offer some support.

It is estimated that 15 percent of all adult foot complaints involve plantar fasciitis, the type of heel pain caused by chronic inflammation of the connective tissue extending from the heel bone to the toes. Being overweight and wearing inappropriate footwear are common contributing factors.

The pain is most noticeable after getting out of bed in the morning, and it tends to decrease after a few minutes and returns during the day as time on the feet increases.  Not all heel pain, however, is caused by plantar fasciitis. “It’s important to have a doctor evaluate what is causing your foot pain,” says Dr. Horvath.  “It could come from inflammation of the Achilles tendon, bursitis, arthritis, gout, stress fractures, or irritation of one or more of the nerves in the region.”

“Fortunately, heel pain responds well to conservative care,” explains Dr. Horvath.  “The sooner we start treatment, the better.”


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