What Is Heel Pain and How To Treat It

What Is Heel Pain and How To Treat It

Is your heel sore, inflamed, bruised or aching? Is it hindering your everyday activities?

Do you want it to feel better as soon as possible?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need to read the information below.

We’ll help you to understand what causes heel pain and how you can effectively treat it.

What causes heel pain?

Although there are many factors that can cause heel pain, there are five common conditions that can lead to it. Let’s take a closer look at these:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Pain in the heel is typically the result of a band of tissue, known as the plantar fascia, becoming strained.

The plantar fascia is located under your heel bone and extends across the bottom of your foot, inserting at the base of every toe.

Because of this, you may hear your podiatrist refer to your heel condition as plantar fasciitis.

Knowing these facts, it’s easy to see why people with flat feet or high arches are more prone to developing heel pain.

Other common causes of plantar fasciitis include obesity, stress fracture, arthritis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, prolonged standing on hard surfaces, excessive pronation when walking and high levels of sports activity.

In many cases, the more strain that is put on the heel, the more likely a plantar fasciitis injury is to occur.

The most common indicator of having plantar fasciitis is having heel pain which is at its worst in the morning when you are getting out of bed.

You may also experience arch pain with the condition.

How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis

So what do you do when you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis?

There are several options. Many patients report that stretching can bring a great deal of improvement.

If you visit a podiatrist, he or she can fit you with custom orthotics or a splint.

A podiatrist can also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and/or physical therapy to help.

In some cases, Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) or surgery may be necessary.

Studies have actually shown that PRP is more effective and durable than cortisone injection for the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis (Link to Platelet-rich plasma study).

This makes PRP a good option to try before surgery is ever considered.

2. Heel Spurs

Abnormal growths of bone formed from calcium deposits and occurring at the bottom of the heel bone are known as heel spurs.

Often times, heel spurs are caused by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or by overdoing high impact activities such as running.

Heel spurs can also be the result of an abnormal gait, bad posture, or having flat feet or high arches.

In some cases of untreated plantar fasciitis, heel spurs may form where the plantar fascia tissue connects to your heel bone.

If you experience a great deal of heel pain while standing or walking, a heel spur just may be the reason.

How To Treat Heel Spurs

If you suffer from heel spurs, it’s best to start wearing shoes that fit you properly.

It’s also a plus if these shoes have shock absorbing soles.

A podiatrist can help you feel better by making you custom orthotics to wear inside your shoes as well as prescribing physical therapy.

Surgery for heel spurs is only done in very extreme cases, and is rare.

Most often, rest and anti-inflammatory medications will help the condition to improve.

3. Stone Bruises

Stone bruises can occur on the fat pad of the heel, and are typically the result of a high impact injury.

Stone bruises can also happen because of blunt trauma, such as stepping on a hard object.

Symptoms may include visible bruising as well as ongoing pain (however, in many cases the bruising isn’t visible).

Many patients say the condition feels like walking on a pebble or a “toothache” in the heel.

How To Treat Stone Bruises

Stone bruises should be initially treated by icing, resting and elevating the foot.

While the condition often goes away by itself, it does usually take some time to disappear.

The best thing to do if you have a stone bruise is to be patient and try to keep weight off the foot as much as possible.

After you have rested your foot for a reasonable period of time, it should start to feel better.

If it doesn’t, it’s best to seek the advice of a podiatrist.

4. Heel Bone Fractures

Did you know that heel bones are the most commonly fractured bones in the foot?

Calcaneus is actually the term for a fractured heel bone.

A fracture usually occurs after an accident — such as a hard fall or a car accident causes high impact to the area.

However, even vigorous exercise can even cause the heel bone to crack. Some symptoms of heel bone fractures include swelling, bruising, pain and limping.

How To Treat Heel Bone Fractures

What Is Heel Pain and How To Treat It

If you’re suffering from a heel bone fracture, one of the best options is to rest your foot from any weight bearing pressure.

A podiatrist can give you crutches to assist with this, as well as a splint or cast.

He or she can also prescribe pain relievers and/or physical therapy. Surgery for heel bone fractures is only done in very serious cases.

5. Retrocalcaneal Bursitis

If you’re experiencing pain and inflammation in the area behind your heel (where the Achilles tendon is attached to the heel bone), you may be suffering from retrocalcaneal bursitis.

This condition is typically caused by running too often or wearing shoes that rub too much against the back of the heel.

Retrocalcaneal bursitis usually gets worse over time, as the skin on the heel swells and sometimes forms a bump.

How To Treat Retrocalcaneal Bursitis

Stretching and wearing open back shoes are common treatments for retrocalcaneal bursitis.

A podiatrist can also give you heel inserts to help the condition.

Seeing a podiatrist may be the key to ending heel pain.

No matter which condition caused your heel pain, we know that any type of pain can be disruptive to your lifestyle. Seeing a podiatrist is always a good choice if you want to recover as quickly as possible.

If you live or work in or around the Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia Metro area, give us a call at 301-937-5666, or simply sill out the form on the top right of this page to schedule an appointment or have your questions answered.

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