Nadal beats Heel Pain at Wimbledon

Tennis enthusiasts at the Wickertree Tennis Club and Raquet Club of Columbus, as well as fans around the world are currently enjoying one of the biggest tennis tournaments of the year, the Championships at Wimbledon.  It is always interesting to follow the previous year’s champions to see how they will do.  It is even more interesting when last year’s champion is Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

This past Monday, June 27 in the 4th round of Wimbledon, Nadal began having what appeared to be some very intense heel pain.    Nadal had trainers called onto the court twice to check where the pain was located around the back and sides of his heel.  Luckily, he was able to play through his pain to win and continue on to Friday’s match which he also won, beating out Andy Murray.  Although the injury has not yet been definitely diagnosed, Nadal is taking a risk to play out his last few games at Wimbledon before taking an already scheduled vacation.

Heel pain can be debilitating to any athlete, especially for one playing at as a high level as Nadal.  The most common cause of heel pain on the bottom of the foot in athletes is called plantar fasciitis, or heel spur syndrome.  The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue deep on the bottom, or plantar surface of the foot, that connects the heel bone, or calcaneus to the ball of the foot.  Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia has too much tension put on it and begins to pull at its attachment point on the heel bone, causing pain.  Pain associated with plantar fasciitis is often worse in the morning, when the individual first steps out of bed.  Individuals who overpronate, or have flat feet are at a greater risk for plantar fasciitis because of the extra tension placed on the plantar fascia when the arch is flattened and elongated.  Ultrasound can be helpful in diagnosing plantar fasciitis versus other causes of plantar heel pain such as a loss of the fat pad under the heel or a nerve entrapment.  If the diagnosis is plantar fasciitis, it can often be treated non-surgically.  More conservative methods that may be used include icing, rest, custom orthotics to relieve plantar fascia tension cause by overpronation, night splints and stretching.  If pain persists, many cases have been successfully treated by similarly non-invasive extracorporeal shock wave therapy.

Although Nadal will have to work through his pain at Wimbledon, at least his injury at this point is not severe enough to force him to drop out altogether.  The promise of long break to rest your feet and get the best treatment and relief from pain in the near future can be a great motivator for anyone to make it through a tough time!

Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington. If you would like to see a podiatrist in Dublin, Ohio near Tuttle Crossing, call 614-885-3338 for an appointment.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia