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Heidi’s story: Foot is ‘just so much better’ after tarsal tunnel surgery

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Heidi Dresel endured severe right heel pain for years.

“It was so painful to stand and walk,” says Heidi, who during that time worked 12- to 16-hour shifts as a certified nursing assistant. “It took me a good 10 minutes to bear any weight on that foot. You kind of had to limp on the top of your foot, walking on your toes a little bit because it was literally that bad.”

She tried several remedies to ease the heel pain: Over-the-counter medication, different types of shoes, various exercises and steroid injections to name a few. Nothing offered any relief.

Heidi was running out of hope. That was until a podiatrist referred her to Dr. Steven Schmidt, a plastic surgeon with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic.

“By the time I saw him I was just at my wits end,” Heidi says. “He was literally the last-ditch effort to find out what was going on with my foot. I thought he was going to think that I was kind of crazy because I had gone through so much, so many appointments. I literally tried everything with everybody and I thought for sure he was going to tell me that I was crazy.”

Schmidt diagnosed the problem. Some of Heidi’s blood vessels were wrapped around a nerve in her foot. That resulted in nerve impingement or pinching and her heel pain.

Such pain often is treated by specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, pain and rehab medicine experts, neurologists and in some cases, plastic surgeons.

“He said, ‘I know the human anatomy. I can definitely take care of this problem,’” Heidi says. “I was amazed.”

Schmidt diagnosed her problem – tarsal tunnel syndrome. People with tarsal tunnel syndrome typically experience pain, numbness or tingling. This pain generally is felt along the tibial nerve but also can be felt in the sole of the foot or inside the ankle. It generally feels like sharp, shooting pains, pins and needles, an electric shock or a burning sensation.

Schmidt performed Heidi’s tarsal tunnel surgery. Each problematic blood vessel was surgically untangled from the nerve – restoring its function and easing Heidi’s pain.

“The whole process with him was great,” she says. “He’s such a nice guy and it went so well. I would definitely recommend him to anybody that needs any kind of surgery.”

She remains active, her heel pain continues to subside.

“I still have some pain, but that’s just normal working my shift and then I’m going to the gym, but it’s definitely not anywhere near the pain I had during that whole time prior to seeing Dr. Schmidt. It’s just so much better.”

Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Author: Ashley Scott