Heel Pain/Heel Spur
Heel pain is an extremely common that has many possible causes. These include stress fractures, arthritis, nerve irritation, cysts, tendinitis, and, most often, PLANTAR FASCIITIS and ACHILLES TENDONITIS.
To help illustrate this, walking at a normal pace puts approximately two times your body weight in force on a foot as it lands while taking a step.
In addition to the amount of physical force we place on our feet every day, another reason heel pain is such a prevalent problem is the fact that several conditions can cause it. Some of the more common ones include:
- Plantar fasciitis. This particular injury—the most common source of heel pain for adults—is caused by an inflamed tissue (plantar fascia) that runs along the underside of your foot. When the fascia is subjected to excessive stress, it can rip and become inflamed. Your body begins to mend the damage during rest, but the tears in the tissue rip back open with the first steps afterward (especially the first steps of the day). Those tears are responsible for the sharp pain associated with this injury.
- Achilles tendonitis. Your Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in your body, but this doesn’t mean it’s infallible. When the Achilles is overworked, it becomes inflamed and causes pain in the back of the heel. Symptoms are worse during, or right after, physical activity. They also become stronger over time. Long-distance runners and “weekend warriors” are both quite susceptible to this injury.
- Sever's disease. Whereas plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of adult heel pain, Sever’s is the leading cause for child and adolescent heel pain. Contrary to the name, Sever’s is not actually a disease – it’s a condition that develops when the heel bone grows more quickly than does the Achilles tendon. Often called “Growing Pains” this is particularly problematic for active children
Heel Pain Treatment and Prevention
Heel pain is, at best, unpleasant and can keep you from favorite activities. The good news, though, is that they are normally treated effectively with nonsurgical treatment.
We have many options and methods to resolve the problem for you, including orthotics (either top of the line OTC orthotics or latest technology 3D Custom Scanned Orthotics), LASER therapy, cortisone injections, shoe changes, and shockwave therapy. Not all forms of treatment are right for all patients, so we will create a customized treatment plan based on your specific situation.
Of course, preventing the problem in the first place is even better than treating it! Fortunately, most common causes of heel pain are fairly preventable. Some of the ways you can lower your risk of ending up with heel pain include:
- Wear proper footwear. Make sure you have the right shoes for the sports and exercises you do. Also, choose footwear that fits correctly and provides not only ample cushioning but more importantly enough arch support.
- Beyond the shoes you wear for exercise, restrict the amount of time you spend in high-heeled shoes. Stilettos and pumps may look cute, but keep in mind that they cause excessive strain on connective tissues in your feet and lower legs.
- Ease into physical activity. If you start a new exercise or running program, start at relatively low levels of intensity and duration. From there, increase those levels by no more than 10% in any given week. This will give your body time to adjust to the increased amount of physical stress you are placing on it.
- Stretch your lower limbs. Before you run or work out, take about 5-10 minutes and do a proper warm up (followed by dynamic stretches). Make sure you target the muscles you will be using!
- Cross-train. Instead of relying on only running or high-impact sports (basketball, tennis, etc.) for your fitness, mix in a couple sessions of cycling, swimming, yoga, or walking during the week to lower the total amount of physical stress for your feet and heels.