Pain in the foot and heel is a common complaint that many people have. There can also be a number of common causes of foot and heel pain that can be addressed using a variety of treatment options. There could be a stress fracture, a bruise, or conditions like Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis that can lead to discomfort.
In order to have your foot pain properly diagnosed, your podiatrist will want to inquire about your pain level, whether or not you are having sharp pains, aching, burning, etc. Your bones will also be examined along with the nerves, soft tissue, and the skin that your foot and heel area are made of. There may also be an order for imaging tests to further confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for your pain will vary, but it will usually include things like icing, rest, taking something to cut back on inflammation, and wearing shoe inserts. In very rare cases, your podiatrist might suggest that surgery is done to help alleviate the heel pain.
Heel Pain Causes
The heel bone, which is the calcaneus, is found at the back portion of the foot that lies under the ankle. The heel bone works with the surrounding tissues and the talus bone to offer you the balance and side to side movement you need each day.
There can be countless causes and different methods of treatment for heel pain. The more that you know moving forward, the easier it will be for you to work with your podiatrist to make smart decisions for your healing and treatment.
The two most common heel pain causes are Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
Achilles Tendonitis – This is inflammation that takes place in the Achilles tendon, which is the large tendon that attaches on the back portion of your heel bone. The burning or tightening feeling that you may be experiencing happens just above the heel bone and there will often be swelling as well as stiffness in the morning.
This is a condition that will usually develop from overuse, such as running excessively or not warming up your calf muscles before a run or big workout. There are some rare cases where an Achilles tendon rupture can take place as a result of being involved in a vigorous physical activity where the foot may pivot suddenly.
Plantar Fasciitis – This is a condition that includes inflammation and irritation of the tight tissue band that makes up the arch of the foot and works to connect the heel bone to the toe base. There might be severe throbbing or stabbing pain that comes on with weight-bearing after resting, like when you take initial steps in the morning or standing up after sitting for a long time.
Some patients with plantar fasciitis may turn into something known as a heel spur, which forms where the fascia is connected to the heel bone. In other rare cases, the plantar fascia can tear or rupture, which can cause severe, sudden and sharp pain along with bruising and swelling.
Some of the other less common causes of heel pain and foot discomfort include tarsal tunnel syndrome, stress fractures, Haglund’s Syndrome that can be with or without bursitis, heel pad bruising, heel pad syndrome, fat pad atrophy, and sinus tarsi syndrome.
Regardless of the types of symptoms you are having, you will need to see your professional podiatrist for help if you notice the following:
- Heel pain that may occur at night or while you are resting
- Discoloration or swelling at the back area of your foot
- Heel pain that lasts longer than a few days
- Any sign of infection that may include redness, fever, and warmth
- The inability to walk about comfortably on the side that is affected
- Other symptoms that seem to be unusual
When you contact Mill Creek Foot & Ankle Clinic, you can set up a time for a consultation to go over the heel and foot pain that you have been experiencing. The goal is to make sure that you are able to get the proper diagnosis to move forward with treatment that will allow you to move about with less pain and discomfort, or none at all.