Many suffer from heel pain, but few know how to treat it. It could mean a million things, or it could be nothing, but heel pain is your foot’s way of telling you, something is not right. Foot and ankle surgeons categorize heel pain into four categories: plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bursitis and nerve pain. The diagnosis depends on the exact location of the pain and how it affects the leg’s mechanical movement.
Plantar fasciitis: The most common cause for heel pain is inflammation of the plantar fascia or band of tissue extending from the heel to the toes. The fascia becomes inflamed which causes pain in the heel or arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis can be first treated nonsurgically with stretching exercises, rest, shoe pads, orthotics, footwear modifications, night splints and injection therapy. Most cases respond well to nonsurgical treatments, but some do worsen and require surgery to correct it.
Achilles tendonitis: The inflammation of the Achilles tendon is an overuse condition, seen often in athletes playing high-impact sports such as basketball or tennis. These sports often have a sudden increase of repetitive motion using the Achilles tendon, which puts too much stress too quickly on the tendon, which can lead to microinjuries to the tendon. Treatment includes immobilizing the foot with a walking boot or cast and physical therapy. Orthotics and ice are also used to manage pain. If it’s a severe case and nonsurgical methods don’t help, surgery may be necessary to repair it fully.
Bursitis: Another common cause of heel pain when the fat pad of the heel is swollen and red from inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac inside the heel known as the bursa. The bursa protects the heel from friction and can become inflamed from repetitive motion or irritation from shoes. With bursitis, the toes and heel are most often affected. Treatment includes resting the foot, ice, anti-inflammatories, padding and steroid injections to ease inflammation and pain. If more conservative treatment doesn’t work, surgery may be needed.
Whatever your heel pain may be, make an appointment with our office for a proper diagnosis and to start treatment as soon as possible.