Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome if a spur is also present. Heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation, or a cyst.
Because there are several potential causes, it is important to have heel pain properly diagnosed. A foot and ankle doctor is able to distinguish between all the possibilities and determine the underlying source of your heel pain.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain.
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to faulty structure of the foot. For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. This is particularly evident when one’s job requires long hours on the feet. Obesity may also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are:
People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after they’ve been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain decreases, because walking stretches the fascia. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.
Treatment of plantar fasciitis begins with first-line strategies, which you can begin at home:
If you still have pain after several weeks, see a foot and ankle doctor at Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, who may add one or more of these treatment routines:
Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to non-surgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of non-surgical treatment, you continue to have heel pain, surgery will be considered. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial for you.
No matter what kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Therefore, you will need to continue with preventive measures. Wearing supportive shoes, stretching, and using custom orthotic devices are the mainstay of long-term treatment for plantar fasciitis.
Over 200,000 patients have found relief from their foot pain, heel pain or ankle pain, and we’re confident we can help you too! Your feet will thank you! For additional information on heel treatment or to schedule an appointment, call Weil Foot & Ankle at (847) 666-5504.