While minor, temporary aches that go away with a little bit of rest are almost inevitable from time to time, pain that is serious or longstanding—enough to get in the way of living the lifestyle you want to live—is not normal and never acceptable. It’s a sign that you need to see a foot specialist. Fortunately, heel pain can almost always be treated conservatively.
What Are the Causes of Heel Pain?
Many different heel pain conditions share similar symptoms, and even contributing factors. As you might imagine, these can include:
- Occupations that require a lot of standing
- Active physical hobbies, such as running and sports
- Poor-fitting shoes
- Faulty foot structure or biomechanically flawed gait
The most common heel pain diagnosis in adults is plantar fasciitis. You can usually identify this condition by the distinctive, sharp pain it causes when you get out of bed in the morning, or up after a long sit. Plantar fasciitis is the result of over-stretching and tearing in a band of tissue (the plantar fascia) running across the bottom of the foot, particularly just underneath the heel.
Other relatively common heel pain conditions include:
- Heel spurs. These bony deposits may develop over time as a result of untreated plantar fasciitis. They usually are not painful on their own and cause no problems once plantar fasciitis subsides.
- Achilles tendinitis, which is the result of tearing, inflammation, or degeneration of the “heel cord” on the back of the leg.
- Haglund’s deformity, which is a bony deformity that manifests as a noticeable hard bump at the back of the heel. Also know as “pump bump” due to its association with women’s footwear.
- Sever’s disease, an injury to the growth plate of the heel. This condition exclusively affects children and adolescents, especially during the “growth spurt” years.
Treating Heel Pain
Because heel pain can be caused by so many different conditions, it’s important to establish an accurate diagnosis before developing any treatment plan. We’ll ask you about your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical examination, and any other diagnostic tests we feel are necessary to thoroughly understand your problem.
The good news is that surgical procedures are necessary only in a very small percentage of situations—typically when there is a significant structural problem with the bones of the feet. We offer a range of conservative treatments, from the tried-and-true standbys to advanced therapies, in order to relieve your pain and heal your heels without needing more invasive approaches.
Components of your personalized treatment plan may include:
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to manage pain and swelling.
- Switching to more comfortable and supportive shoes.
- Stretching exercises.
- Medications (mostly over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, but we can provide injections if necessary).
- We generally start with an appropriate over-the-counter prefabricated insole. However, some people may require custom orthotics.
- Advanced therapies. If more traditional conservative treatments haven’t sufficiently reduced your pain, we may recommend laser therapy, shockwave therapy, or amniotic tissue injection therapy to trigger faster natural tissue repair.
Heel pain is very treatable, and shouldn’t keep you from living life to the fullest!
Contact Canyon Foot & Ankle to schedule an appointment and get back on your feet again.