“Everybody during their life has an episode of low back pain and at least one episode of heel pain,” says Francisco Caycedo, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with OrthoSports Associates at St. Vincent’s in Birmingham.
What’s the problem? Until now, finding the cause of heel pain could be hit and miss. “There’s all kinds of different tissue in the heel,” explains Dr. Caycedo. “We were limited by technology in how to find the cause of the pain. We had to do some guessing.”
Make a joyful sound. But now, a special ultrasound offers an ideal diagnostic tool for elusive heel pain. “The machine produces sounds of certain wavelengths, different from cardiac or obstetric ultrasounds, so when it hits bone or tendon it gives you a particular image,” says Dr. Caycedo. “It’s an amazing quality of picture.”
You can see your foot in motion. For the first time, this ultrasound allows orthopedic surgeons — and you — to see exactly what’s going on in your foot as you move it. And even in color. “It’s a dynamic image,” says Dr. Caycedo. “With this kind of technology, we can see new formation of vessels, where fluid is collecting, how the tendons are moving, almost everything.”
Spotting Achilles tendonitis. The most common heel pain comes from the tendons. “With the ultrasound, we can now see whether the Achilles tendon has a partial rupture or full rupture right in our office without having to do surgery,” says Dr. Caycedo. This is a major diagnostic breakthrough for patients and surgeons, because while the treatment for partial rupture is rest, a full rupture can’t heal without surgery.
A look inside. The ability to clearly see the tendons in real time makes the ultrasound a potent part of the treatment of heel pain, as well. “If you have inflammation around the tendon, you need to put the injection where it is inflamed or it doesn’t help,” says Dr. Caycedo. “Used to be the only way to see exactly where the injection was needed was to do open surgery, but now we can see with ultrasound even if you move while we do the injection. The difference is so subtle between the tissues around the tendon and the tendon itself, you have to have something to guide you.”
Helps with nerves. The other major source of heel pain comes from damaged or trapped nerves. “With ultrasound, we can see the shape of the nerve, even as it’s surrounded by tendons and the sheath of fascia,” says Dr. Caycedo. “There’s a lot of live information given to us with these devices.”
by Jane Ehrhardt
To read more about Dr. Francisco Caycedo, click here.
For more on OrthoSports Associates, click here.
This article written and brought to you by BirminghamDoctors.com.