Whenever you walk or exercise, you place high amounts of stress on the heel of your foot.
While your feet should be strong enough to handle a very heavy load, it’s possible that you could place too high of a load on your feet over time, which can bring about heel pain like plantar fasciitis. Heel pain can occur for any number of reasons, which extend from wearing shoes that don’t fit properly to playing sports like football and basketball.
Most cases of heel pain should dissipate on their own. However, continual use of a sore heel usually leads to a worsening of the pain, which you should try to avoid.
What Is Heel Pain?
When taking a look at the most common form of heel pain, known as plantar fasciitis, this condition occurs when the band of tissue between your toes and heel bone becomes inflamed. This condition can cause pain along the back of the heel or underneath it. When you’re affected by plantar fasciitis, the fascia tissue will specifically become irritated before being inflamed. While plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel pain, some additional reasons that you might be experiencing pain include arthritis, nerve irritation, tendonitis, and a stress fracture. Whether you’re experiencing pain beneath the heel or behind the heel, getting treatment soon after you notice the symptoms is important if you want to avoid having the pain worsen.
Causes for the Development of Heel Pain
If you start to suffer from pain on the bottom of your heel, it’s likely that you’ve developed plantar fasciitis. If the pain is located at the back of your heel, it’s more likely that you’re suffering from Achilles tendonitis. Some of the additional causes of heel pain include:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Stress fractures
- Bone tumors
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
If you believe that you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, the main cause for this condition is because the structure of your foot is faulty. If your feet have a high-arch or flat shape to them, you’ll be more likely to develop plantar fasciitis than someone with a standard arch shape to their foot. If you wear footwear that doesn’t offer much support, walking on flat and hard surfaces can place high amounts of stress on the plantar fascia, which can cause pain. Other risk factors for plantar fasciitis include normal overuse of the tissues and obesity.
Main Symptoms of Heel Pain
If the heel pain that you’re going through is because of the presence of plantar fasciitis, the main symptom will be pain that’s centered around the bottom of your heel. This pain can also exist within the arch of your foot. If you’re suffering from this condition, it’s likely that the pain will worsen with each passing week until you obtain some type of treatment. The pain is usually at its worst whenever you get up from bed in the morning and when you stand up after sitting for a lengthy amount of time. While walking should lessen your pain as the fascia becomes stretched, the pain can return if you’re on your feet for a long time without respite.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Most facets of treatment for heel pain can be done at home without needing to visit a doctor or a surgeon. These treatment options should help your pain by relieving the inflammation in your foot and promoting healing of the tissues. For one, stretching exercises that focus on the calf should relieve some of the pain while also strengthening your foot. You also want to avoid walking without shoes while you’re attempting to recover from your heel pain. Doing so can place undue amounts of stress on the injured area of your heel.
The placement of ice packs and the usage of anti-inflammatory medications can also lessen the severity of the symptoms that you’re experiencing. If the pain still subsists after a few weeks, some additional treatment options for you to consider include wearing orthotic devices, attending physical therapy, and wearing a night splint while sleeping.
If the pain has yet to be relieved with non-surgical treatments or is actually worsening, you might want to think about surgery for the pain. The exact procedure used for your heel pain depends on what’s causing the pain. Your surgeon will be able to provide you with an extensive list of your surgical options. The main surgery used for plantar fasciitis is the plantar fasciitis release procedure.