Heel pain is one of the most common and painful foot conditions we treat.
One of the first things we will need to figure out is what’s causing your heel pain. There are a number of conditions that can cause your heels to hurt, which is why we focus first on determining the true cause of your heel pain. If the wrong cause is identified, your podiatry care and treatment could be doing more harm than good.
Heel pain can be stubborn and physically draining, particularly if you are an active person or if you stand a lot for your job. Heel pain can be caused by trauma or inflammation to a number of different tissues in and around the heel. That’s why you need an experienced Podiatrist to correctly diagnose the actual cause of the heel pain and provide heel pain treatment. By far the most common cause of heel pain is PLANTAR FASCIITIS. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the main stabilising soft tissue structure in your feet.
There are many factors as to why the plantar fascia becomes inflamed:
- over-use: too much sports, running, walking or standing for long periods (e.g. because of your job)
- weight gain: our feet are designed to carry a ‘normal’ weight. Any excess weight places great pressure on the bones, nerves, muscles and ligaments in the feet, which sooner or later will have consequences. Even pregnancy (in the last 10 weeks) can cause foot problems!
- age: as we get older ligaments become tighter & shorter and muscles become weaker; the ideal circumstances for foot problems
- unsupportive footwear: ‘floppy’ shoes with no support as well as thongs affect our walking pattern and may cause conditions that require heel pain treatment
- walking barefoot: especially on hard surfaces like concrete or tiles
- low arch/flat feet or over-pronation
There are many other causes of heel pain including:
- Heel bursitis – inflammation of the back of the heel, the bursa (a fibrous sac full of fluid). Can be caused by landing awkwardly or hard on the heels. Can also be caused by pressure from footwear. Pain is typically felt either deep inside the heel or at the back of the heel. Sometimes the Achilles tendon may swell. As the day progresses the pain usually gets worse.
- Heel bumps (pump bumps) – common in teenagers. The heel bone is not yet fully mature and rubs excessively, resulting in the formation of too much bone. Often caused by having a flat foot. Among females can be caused by starting to wear high heels before the bone is fully mature.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome – a large nerve in the back of the foot becomes pinched, or entrapped (compressed). This is a type of compression neuropathy that can occur either in the ankle or foot.
- Chronic inflammation of the heel pad – caused either by the heel pad becoming too thin, or heavy footsteps and requiring heel pain treatment.
- Stress fracture – this is a fracture caused by repetitive stress, commonly caused by strenuous exercise, sports or heavy manual work. Runners are particularly prone to stress fracture in the metatarsal bones of the foot. Can also be caused by osteoporosis.
- Severs disease (calcaneal apophysitis) – the most common cause of heel pain in child/teenage athletes, caused by overuse and repetitive microtrauma of the growth plates of the calcaneus (heel bone). Children aged from 7-15 are most commonly affected.
- Achilles tendonosis (degenerative tendinopathy) – also referred to as tendonitis, tendinosis and tendinopathy. A chronic (long-term) condition associated with the progressive degeneration of the Achilles tendon. Sometimes the Achilles tendon does not function properly because of multiple, minor microscopic tears of the tendon, which cannot heal and repair itself correctly – the Achilles tendon receives more tension than it can cope with and microscopic tears develop. Eventually, the tendon thickens, weakens and becomes painful.
The Runaway Bay Podiatry Clinic can diagnose and isolate the cause of your foot pain and target the best treatment for a speedy recovery.
Some common causes of heel pain include:
- Achilles tendonitis, which is tearing along your tendon that can be very painful. Your heel may hurt at the back instead of on the bottom.
- Plantar fasciitis involves stress or injury to a thick ligament in the bottom of your foot. The ligament can over stretch and tear, causing inflammation and pain.
- Bone bruises can be caused if your heel strikes a rock or another object really hard.
- Excessive pronation is caused when you have flat or fallen arches and your ankles begin to sag inward. This affects your gait, which in turn causes inflammation and pain in the foot.
- Bursitis is a soft tissue growth on your heel, which is often mistaken for a heel spur but is actually typically a neuroma or sac of fluid.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that can cause pain in your heels or toes.
- Gout can also cause pain in your heels or toes.
As expert podiatrists, we want to help you get back to living without heel pain. In order to accomplish this effectively and successfully, we pride ourselves on taking the time to listen to your concerns, symptoms, and treatment goals. Your podiatry care is our top priority, and we can typically help you heal without surgery.