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Understanding and Managing Heel Pain

Heel pain can occur for any number of reasons, which extend from wearing shoes that don’t fit properly to playing sports like football and basketball. Most cases of heel pain should dissipate on their own. However, continual use of a sore heel usually leads to a worsening of the pain, which you should try to avoid.

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Causes for the Development of Heel Pain

If you start to suffer from pain on the bottom of your heel, it’s likely that you’ve developed plantar fasciitis. If the pain is located at the back of your heel, it’s more likely that you’re suffering from Achilles tendonitis. 

Some of the additional causes of heel pain include:

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Stress fractures
  • Bone tumors
  • Bursitis
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Plantar Fasciitis and Other Heel Conditions

When taking a look at the most common form of heel pain — known as plantar fasciitis — this condition occurs when the band of tissue between your toes and heel bone becomes inflamed. This can cause pain along the back of the heel, or underneath it. When you’re affected by plantar fasciitis, the fascia tissue will specifically become irritated before being inflamed. 

While plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel pain, some additional reasons that you might be experiencing pain include arthritis, nerve irritation, tendonitis, and a stress fracture. Whether you’re experiencing pain beneath the heel or behind the heel, getting treatment soon after you notice the symptoms is important if you want to avoid having the pain worsen.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

If you believe that you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, the main cause for this condition is because the structure of your foot is faulty. If your feet have a high-arch or flat shape to them, you’ll be more likely to develop plantar fasciitis than someone with a standard arch shape to their foot. If you wear footwear that doesn’t offer much support, walking on flat and hard surfaces can place high amounts of stress on the plantar fascia, which can cause pain. Other risk factors for plantar fasciitis include normal overuse of the tissues and obesity.

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Main Symptoms of Heel Pain

If the heel pain that you’re going through is because of the presence of plantar fasciitis, the main symptom will be pain that is centered around the bottom of your heel. This pain can also exist within the arch of your foot. 

If you’re suffering from this condition, it’s likely that the pain will worsen with each passing week until you obtain some type of treatment. The pain is usually at its worst whenever you get up from bed in the morning and when you stand up after sitting for a lengthy amount of time. While walking should lessen your pain as the fascia becomes stretched, the pain can return if you’re on your feet for a long time without respite.

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Heel Pain Treatment at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group

If you’re suffering from heel pain, our team at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group can help. Whether you require an in-office treatment or surgery, we will be with you every step of the way. We are a professional, nurturing female doctor group specializing in foot and ankle correction for both injury and conditions. Founded by Dr. Salma Aziz in 2001, our podiatry clinic also includes the talents of Dr. Petrina Yokay and Dr. Jessica Arneson. Our mission is to get you back to your activities and life.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Custom orthotics are an effective non-surgical treatment for heel pain. In addition, patients can perform stretching exercises that focus on the calf to relieve some of the pain while also strengthening your foot. You’ll also want to avoid walking without shoes while attempting to recover from your heel pain because doing so can place undue amounts of stress on the injured area of your heel.

The placement of ice packs and the usage of anti-inflammatory medications can also lessen the severity of the symptoms that you’re experiencing. If the pain still subsists after a few weeks, some additional treatment options for you to consider include wearing orthotic devices and receiving physical therapy.

Surgical Treatment Options

If you are not having luck with non-surgical treatment options such as custom orthotics, stretching, ice packs, medications, orthotic devices, and physical therapy, you may need to seek a surgical option. If the pain has yet to be relieved or is actually worsening with these solutions, please contact your doctor about surgery. 

The exact procedure used for your heel pain will depend on what is actually causing the pain. Your surgeon will be able to provide you with an extensive list of your surgical options. 

We heavily encourage you to get an expert opinion if your pain is not getting better with non-surgical options. It can be very debilitating to wait too long to correct heel pain.

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