One of the most excruciating and debilitating pains that one can experience is heel pain. Heel pain can actually interfere with your activities of daily living limiting the things that you want or need to do. In fact, many people often avoid certain activities such as exercise because of the pain and end up gaining weight and becoming depressed as a result. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to treat their heel pain and end up suffering needlessly because of it. Below are three most common causes of heel pain and what you can do to treat them.
The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band that covers the muscles and bones in the bottom of your feet. When this ligament becomes inflamed at the heel bone, it is known as plantar fasciitis and is one of the most common heel pain causes. It is usually most painful first thing in the morning or if you sit for a while and stand up. This pain is usually due to swelling and poor biomechanics or foot function. It is treated with stretching, physical therapy, night splints and orthotics to correct the biomechanics so that it doesn’t come back. In more severe cases, surgery could be required.
Another common cause of pain in the heel area is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, which is very similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Symptoms are caused by a nerve in the bottom of the foot close to the heel that gets compressed as a result of poor biomechanics. This pain, which can sometimes be described as sharp, burning or numbness can be treated with stretching, physical therapy, night splints and orthotics to correct the biomechanics so that it doesn’t come back. In more severe cases, surgery could be required.
Stress fractures of the heel bone or calcaneus can also be a common occurrence in this area. This is especially common among individuals who have low bone density or who have been particularly hard on their feet. Cold compresses and rest may relieve a lot of the pain along with physical therapy and orthotics to correct the biomechanics so that it doesn’t come back. In more severe cases, casting for 4-6 weeks could be required.
While these are 3 common conditions seen to cause heel pain, there are many more painful heel conditions that can be painful as well. One thing that they all share in common, however, is that the sooner that treatment is started, the shorter the treatments last and the better the results. Treated early enough, surgery is usually avoided for most painful heel conditions. If you are experiencing heel pain, you should see a board certified podiatrist so that they can evaluate you and begin treatment to avoid needless down time due to pain or surgery.