Carolina Foot Care Associates, PLLC


Medical and Surgical Treatment of the Foot

Statesville (704) 873-9797 / Clemmons (336) 766-8400

 

What Can I Do About Heel Pain?

heel pain

Heel pain is a major foot problem experienced by Americans. It can happen to people in all walks of life. The longer a person walks or stands in his or her daily activities, the more likely he or she is to be affected by heel pain.

Standing on hard, unyielding floors or spending a lot of time on one's feet for both work and leisure may increase a person's likelihood of experiencing foot pain. But foot structure is actually the most significant factor in determining whether or not a person may develop this condition.

Plantar fasciitis is the medical name for heel and arch pain. The plantar fascia is a ligament-like band that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. The band pulls on your heel bone, raising the arch of your foot as it pushes off the ground. If your foot moves incorrectly, the plantar fascia may become strained. The fascia may swell, and its tiny fibers may begin to fray. This is the cause of plantar fasciitis.

Causes

Plantar fasciitis is often caused by poor foot mechanics. If your foot flattens too much, the fascia may overstretch and swell. If your foot flattens too little, the fascia may ache from being pulled too tight.

Symptoms

With plantar fasciitis, the bottom of your foot may hurt when you stand, especially first thing in the morning. Pain usually occurs on the inside of the foot, near the spot where your heel and arch meet. Pain may lessen after a few steps, but it comes back after rest or with prolonged movement.

Related Problems

A heel spur is extra bone that may grow near the spot where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel. The heel spur may form in response to the plantar fascia's tug on the heel bone.

Bursitis is the swelling of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between a ligament and a bone. Bursitis may develop if a swollen plantar fascia presses against a plantar bursa. Haglund's Deformity is a bony outgrowth that develops on the upper back of your heel bone. Because you may feel pain where the edge of your shoes rubs the Achilles tendon, the problem is nicknamed "pump bump." A Stress Fracture is a crack in the heel bone, usually behind or below the subtalar joint. You may feel pain during extended activities when you touch the injured area.

Sever's Disease is an inflammation in the area between the sections of bone that make up the heel. The problem occurs in young people, whose bones have not yet fused and fully matured. The back of your heel may hurt, forcing you to limp or walk on your toes.

Medical History and Physical Exam and Testing

We will first ask you where and when your foot hurts, and about any other symptoms you are experiencing. Then we will feel for damaged ligaments, inflamed tendons and displaced bones or joints. We may also watch you walk to see if your symptoms are caused by incorrect foot movement.

X-rays may be taken, or you may have a bone scan to confirm a suspected heel spur or a stress fracture of the heel bone.

Suggested first remedies

If you are experiencing heel pain, try one of these home treatments before visiting a foot and ankle specialist:


Try these steps for two weeks. Then, if these home treatments are unsuccessful in relieving heel pain, Seek the help of a foot and ankle specialist. In-office treatments vary according to a person's needs. They may include a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication, use of special bandages, supports to be worn inside the shoes, physical therapy, special splints or an injection of medication. Less than 10 percent of people experiencing heel pain are candidates for endoscopic surgery. If you do require surgery please review our Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy site.

Heel pain occurs in people of all shapes and sizes, and help is available to relieve this condition.