People may experience heel pain throughout the course of their lives. There are multiple causes so if you are experiencing pain in your heel, you should seek an accurate diagnosis from a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon.
Causes of Pain
There are many causes for heel pain. A stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation and sometimes a cyst can all cause pain. The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis which can be called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present.
Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the band of tissue called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia extends from the heel to the toes. In plantar fasciitis, the facia becomes irritated and inflamed and that is what results in heel pain. A person suffering from plantar fasciitis can feel pain on the bottom of the heel, pain can be worse in the morning when a person wakes up, and the pain may increase over the course of a few months. Sometimes pain worsens when one sits for a long period of time, then may decrease when a person starts walking. That is due the fascia being stretched while walking.
What Can Cause Plantar Fasciitis
The central cause of plantar fasciitis is a faulty structure of the foot. People who have high arches may be susceptible, or people with very flat feet may be prone to plantar fasciitis. Standing for long hours in non-supportive footwear can contribute to the problem as well as obesity.
An exam by a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon would be done to properly diagnose heel pain. The surgeon will review medical history and examine the foot. The surgeon will rule out other causes of heel pain to determine the plantar fasciitis diagnosis.
Occasionally x-rays, bone scans or magnetic resonance imaging or an MRI will be used to differentiate different types of heel pain. When heel spurs are found in patients with plantar fasciitis, yet these are rarely sources of pain.
Many treatments for plantar fasciitis can be done at home.
-Stretching exercises that stretch out the calf can ease pain and aid recovery
-Supportive shoes that have arch support and a raised heel can reduce stress on the plantar fascia. Avoid walking barefoot.
-Ice your heel for 10 minutes several times a day
-Limit activities in order to give your heel a rest
-Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may help to reduce pain and inflammation
-Weight loss aids recovery as extra pounds put stress on your plantar fascia
If you still have pain after several weeks of home treatment your podiatric surgeon may suggest other approaches. These include: padding and strapping the foot, orthotic devices, injection therapy, walking casts, night splints and physical therapy.
Most patients will respond to non-surgical treatment but a small percentage may need to seek surgical options. If you have heel pain or know someone that does, please contact Dr. Jason Dickerson at Heiden Orthopedics.