Understanding what is causing your heel pain is very important in determining how best to treat it.
Heel pain can be caused by overuse (usually physical), such as:
It can also be caused by non-use (usually traumatic) such as:
Plantar fasciitis can occur in both of these instances. If the foot strikes on a hard surface at an angle, it can cause pain due to jarring of the ligament attachments. This is more commonly seen in running or jumping athletes.
However, not all cases of heel pain are related to overuse or traumatic injury. Sometimes it is caused by non-injury related inflammatory conditions such as:
According to our doctors, heel pain is usually associated with the following medical conditions:
Plantar fasciitis is a general term for pain on the heel of the foot. It is caused by inflammation and small tears in the tissue on the bottom of your foot that supports your arch. This condition may be treated with physical therapy, exercise, stretching exercises, over-the-counter or prescription medications to help reduce inflammation and pain, or night splints to stretch out the plantar fascia.
Although it's not life-threatening and can often be managed with conservative treatments, severe cases can lead to disability and loss of work.
Also known as pump bump, the typical sign of Haglund's deformity is a visible bump at the back of the heel and around the Achilles tendon. It may feel rigid because it is a bony spur that can swell over time.
Haglund’s deformity is not going to go away by itself. Treatment is usually necessary to help relieve the pain, and surgery is often needed if you want to shrink your heel back to its original size.
Gout and osteoarthritis can lead to heel pain by reducing the cartilage in your joints and eventually causing bone spur formation. It can occur alongside plantar fasciitis.
Osteomyelitis, or infection of the bone and bone marrow, can cause heel pain that mimics the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. If the infection affects the heels, the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the calcaneus (heel bone) may become inflamed, making walking difficult.
The Achilles tendon is the connection between calf muscles and your heel bone. It acts as a spring that provides the force for each step.
Achilles tendonitis is a condition in which the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed. The inflammation of the Achilles tendon is usually caused by overuse. Patients with this condition may experience pain near the back of the heel and tightness in the calf muscles.
A heel spur is a small bony outgrowth from the bone of the heel or the tendon just behind it. Heel spurs are more common among athletes who engage in running sports such as track and field or gymnastics. In fact, heel spurs are very common among runners of all ages. Those with flat feet are also at higher risk for developing heel spurs due to the extra strain on their heels.
At first, you may experience general discomfort around your heel that comes and goes at convenient times (like during your run), but not always when you’re active. As time passes, however, you may find yourself limping and notice that your heel is tender to the touch.
Overuse injuries and stress fractures affecting the heel are caused by the repetitive motion of striking the ground with one's heel.
The key to successful treatment starts with understanding what type of injury you have sustained: a mechanical one, an inflammatory one, an infectious one, or even a non-injury-related condition. Then, various treatment and rehabilitation strategies will be used to achieve treatment goals: getting rid of your heel pain and returning you back to your normal activity.
A physical exam is very important for proper assessment. It may include:
It is always best to perform these types of tests during specific activities that mimic most closely what patients do on a regular basis since each individual’s activity pattern is unique.
Usually, a diagnosis of heel pain can be made based on the history and physical exam alone. However, in some cases, further diagnostic testing is required—such as X-rays, MRI or Ultrasound—to rule out any more serious conditions.
Heel pain may last from days to months, depending on the underlying cause. For example, if it is a symptom of plantar fasciitis, it may resolve on its own from 6 months to a year.
Persistent heel pain that won’t go away is often caused by overuse injuries and inflammation. Conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis may result in chronic heel pain.
You should take care of your heel the same way that you take care of the rest of your body. Listen to what your body is telling you, and rest when necessary. Here are some tips on how to prevent heel pain:
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints in podiatry. Severe heel pain is often debilitating and can limit your movement and daily activities. For these reasons, it’s always best to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor as soon as possible, so that you can start a tailored treatment for your heel problem.
If you are suffering from heel pain, don’t hesitate to visit Florida Foot and Ankle Associates. Our board-certified doctors have years of experience treating foot conditions. You can also schedule a consultation with our heel pain doctors at any of our convenient locations throughout the Greater Miami Area, such as:
Visit our website to find the nearest foot and ankle doctor in your area.
At Florida Foot and Ankle Associates, YOU matter. Our caring and compassionate staff will be there to support you every step of the way. From routine care to more specialized treatment, our heel pain doctors are trained in new methods and advanced equipment in podiatry.
Our medical facility and doctors specialize in the following:
Also, feel free to visit us in any of our convenient locations:
We operate at most major hospitals in the region, accept just about every insurance plan, and offer a range of payment options. Our quality care comes with a promise: accessibility and affordability!
If you have any questions, contact us or call us at 786-662-3893.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.