Heel PainLogan, UT
Heel pain is a common issue that plagues the feet. The victim suffers pain beneath the heel or right behind it that can interfere with a regular routine. A physical injury is not always the cause of the pain. The sensation can start mildly, but quickly become debilitating or even disabling. Even minor amounts of heel pain can become serious.
When to visit a Podiatrist
At Foot & Ankle Specialty Clinic, we have the skills and tools necessary to treat the various forms of heel pain. People who avoid seeking professional treatment, the pain will become persistent and chronic. We can identify the source of the pain and recommend effective treatment.
The first step to healing is to call us today and schedule an appointment.
When experiencing heel pain, it can help to apply ice, reduce activities, change shoes, or perform stretching exercises until the patient is able to see us. While these methods can help to ease some of the pain, they will not always be effective since the patient uses the heel when standing or moving.
Symptoms of heel pain to keep an eye out for include:
- Severe pain and swelling occurs
- Pain, numbness, and tingling
- Possible fever
- Difficulty walking or standing on tiptoe
- Feeling discomfort, even when standing
Diagnosing Heel Pain
In order to diagnose heel pain, we will check the foot and ask several questions. These questions will cover the symptoms, type of footwear the patient uses, the extent of walking/standing, extent of physical activity and their medical history. We will examine the muscles, beginning from the knee and check for abnormal shape or skin changes.
This will help us eliminate conditions like growth or psoriasis. Squeezing the heel may help identify the presence of a cyst, stress fracture or nerve problems. Typically, these should be enough for a diagnosis, but additional blood tests or imaging scans may be necessary.
Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain is not usually caused by one injury, probably from a fall or twist – it is often the result of chronic stress and pressure on the heel. Here are several of the possible symptoms of heel pain.
This is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong ligament that extends from the calcaneum (heel bone) to the foot tip. The pain usually occurs due to the physical structure of the foot, for instances, excessively high or low foot arch.
Abnormal stretches of the plantar fascia can cause inflammation of its soft tissue fibers. This generally occurs where it connects to the heel bone, but it could also affect the center of the foot. The patient will feel pain below the feet, usually after a long rest and when waking up in the morning. If the Achilles tendon tightens, it may cause calf-muscle cramps.
This occurs when the bursa (a fibrous sac filled with fluid) becomes inflamed. Heel bursitis can occur by landing wrongly or hard on the heels or from pressure caused by tight shoes. The pain may occur inside or at the back of the heel. In some cases, it may cause swelling of the Achilles tendon. The pain usually worsens over time.
Also called pump bumps, this condition is common in teenagers. The heel bone has not developed fully and rubs excessively, causing the formation of excess bone. Flat foot can cause heel bumps, or by wearing heels when the bone is not fully developed.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
This occurs when a large nerve at the heel of the foot gets pinched or compressed. The compression can occur in the ankle or foot.
This is connected to recurrent stress, energy-draining exercises, sports, and heavy-duty work. Runners are especially prone to a stress fracture, but it can also happen due to osteoporosis.
Chronic inflammation of the heel pad
This happens when the heel pad becomes thinner due to heavy footsteps.
This is the most popular culprit in children and teenage athletes, caused by abuse and recurrent microtrauma of the growth plates inside the heel bone. Severs disease is common in children between ages seven and 15.
It is also called degenerative tendinopathy. This chronic condition causes the progressive deterioration of the Achilles tendons.
The functions of the Achilles tendon may fail if there are multiple, minor, small tears of the tendons which cannot repair themselves properly. When the Achilles tendon suffers more pressure than it can handle, minor tears occur. Ultimately, the tendon thickens, slacks and becomes painful.
Treatment of Heel Pain
Conservative treatment can help patients recover from heel pain within months. The treatment options available to help treat the condition include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy
- Orthotic or assistive devices and insoles
- Night Splints
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can alleviate pain and swelling. Corticosteroid injections are effective if NSAIDs fail, but they should be taken with caution because extended use may have adverse effects. Physical therapy, including exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendons and toughen the calf muscles, can help stabilize the ankle and heel.
Orthotic or assistive devices and insoles can help cushion the feet during the healing process. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy may be recommended for chronic cases that do not respond to conservative treatment. The procedure involves applying sound waves to the affected part to stimulate healing.
When nothing else works, surgery may be recommended. A night splint may be attached to the calf and foot to be worn when sleeping. The splint stretches the plantar fascia and Achilles tendons over the night.
Call Us Today
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, but other factors may also be responsible. Give us a call and schedule an appointment to receive the treatment you need today.
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