As the most prominent bone in your foot, your heel and its supporting structure are regularly subjected to high-stress levels. Your heel will tell you when that stress affects its integrity, usually causing persistent heel pain.
California Foot and Ankle Clinic, located in Riverside, California, hears many patients complain about heel pain. Learn how to treat heel pain from Sahand Aguilera, DPM, and Ivan Aguilera, DPM.
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. It’s an overuse injury to the sole. The condition occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that provides shock-absorbing support to the foot arch, develops microscopic tears. This leads to collagen degeneration and inflammation.
Plantar fasciitis may cause arch pain, but in most cases, it will trigger acute heel pain as the plantar fascia has its roots there. Early on, the pain is usually mild and goes away with exercise.
Plantar fasciitis can cause severe or moderate heel pain. This is often the case when people take their first steps in the morning or after sitting for a long time. Untreated, you may experience heel pain during long periods of standing or exercise.
If you have:
- Have flat feet or a high-arched foot
- Stand for long periods.
- Shoes without arch support
- Become very active too quickly.
Are you diabetic or very overweight?
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by poor foot biomechanics, which leads to inefficient walking.
Achilles Tendinitis is a common cause of pain in the back of your heel. This overuse injury affects the thick band that connects your leg muscle to the heel bone. This tendon is constantly under pressure because it provides the push-off force when you walk or run. Stress can cause tissue degradation and inflammation.
Achilles tendinitis is evident by pain radiating up the calf from your back heel. It usually begins with mild heel pain, which can spread up your leg after a run or a long walk.
Achilles tendinitis may also cause stiffness in the ankle and heel, which is most noticeable after rest and gets better with moderate exercise. Heel and calf discomfort can be triggered by intense or prolonged physical activity.
Achilles tendinitis and heel pain may be more common if:
- You may have flat feet or tight calves
- Poor foot biomechanics can be a problem
- Avoid wearing high heels or shoes that are not supportive.
- Jumping is a sport that you can play.
- Run on soft or hilly surfaces.
Achilles tendinitis can be a degenerative injury in middle-aged adults and older people. It’s a result of overuse.
Sever’s Disease can cause heel pain in older children and adolescents. It is also known as calcaneal Apophysitis. This occurs when the growth plate of your child’s heel becomes inflamed due to excessive stress. Sever’s Disease is a common developmental condition in children.
Sever’s Disease is characterized by heel pain and swelling at the back of the child’s foot. Kids may have difficulty running or walking, and they may feel stiff. In most cases, the heel pain will worsen with activity.
If your child has:
- You are very physically active
- Do you have flat feet or high arches?
- Shoes that are too tight or poorly fitted
- Are very overweight or obese
- When walking, do not overpronate
Sever’s Disease is most common in girls aged 8-13 and boys aged 10-15.
Heel Pain Treatment Solutions
If you treat heel pain conservatively, it usually responds well.
- Rest or reduced activity
- Ice and elevation
- Stretching exercises that target specific areas
- Anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Taping or splinting
We can also recommend custom-fitted Orthotics or make recommendations on footwear. Corticosteroid injections may be helpful for severe inflammation. Physical therapy can restore flexibility and stability to your feet once the inflammation has been controlled.
It would help to treat heel pain as soon as possible before it becomes a chronic condition. This can affect your walking, make you less active or cause bone growth to develop on your heel. If you are experiencing undiagnosed heel pain.