BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Anyone who spends all day on their feet knows how excruciating the pain can get, especially in the heel. The condition is called plantar fasciitis, and a Baton Rouge doctor recently launched a flip flop that she said works wonders in treating it.
"You had pain here, how's that doing?" Dr. Meredith Warner recently asked patient Elizabeth Demarest while holding her heel at a check-up.
"It's gone," Demarest said with a smile.
As a mother of three young children, Demarest is always on the move. She developed plantar fasciitis, a common and painful condition that occurs when the tissue that connects the toes to the heel (the plantar fascia) is damaged. It affects men and women, young and old, the athletic and non-athletic alike.
"I've always had problems, especially specifically with my left heel, and I was one of those that would have to go buy inserts," Demarest explained.
For the last two months she's been trying the new flip flop called The Healing Sole. Warner developed the shoe after two tours with the U.S. Air Force as a combat surgeon in Iraq and Afghanistan. She saw the need for an easier solution to such a pervasive problem.
"You don't need to get an injection. You don't need surgery. We don't need to do physical therapy now," Warner told Demarest after seeing her progress.
Warner is three-fourths of the way through a clinical trial with 45 patients, and the initial results are promising.
"Most medical devices you're hoping for a 50 to 60 percent success rate," she said. "And we've had about a 80 to 90 percent success rate, so so far, so good, and it's a very safe treatment, which is what I like."
It may not look like much, but there are several features that make the shoe unique. Half of the heel compresses where the pain is most intense. The other half provides much-needed support. The bottom of the flip flop is designed to rock, reducing stress on the joints and arch and providing a natural push-off for each step. There's also a small ramp under the big toe that allows the foot to work more efficiently.
"[That] is a primary reason that it lets a flip flop be the treatment, because it prevents you from contracting your toes when you're walking, and you can't contract the plantar fascia, so it keeps it stretched throughout the gait cycle," Warner explained.
She tells patients to wear the shoes in the evenings and on weekends to give their feet time to heal naturally. Patients report a difference after two to three weeks of part-time wear.
"Weeks later I'm sending Dr. Warner a text and going, 'Thank you so much for coming up with this, because it's really really helped me,'" Demarest said. "If I have to wear heels or be somewhere where I'm gonna be in heels for a long period of time, I like to tuck in the sandals and bring them
This is Warner's first batch of The Healing Sole, made possible with help from LSU's Louisiana Business and Technology Center. The flip flops are also available for men, and more colors and other designs are in the works, including a closed-toe option.
Warner said she wants to grow the business organically, eventually offering the shoes in other medical clinics and specialty shoe stores.