Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)

Your heels absorb the initial impact of every single step you take. Year after year, mile after mile, the full force of weight and pressure really adds up! Unsurprisingly then, heel pain is one of the most common conditions we see at our practice. Many if not most adults will struggle with it at one point or another in their lives.

While minor, temporary aches that go away with a little bit of rest are almost inevitable from time to time, pain that is serious or longstanding—enough to get in the way of living the lifestyle you want to live—is not normal and never acceptable. It’s a sign that you need to see a foot specialist. Fortunately, heel pain can almost always be treated conservatively.

What Are Potential Causes of Heel Pain?

Many different heel pain conditions share similar symptoms, and even contributing factors. As you might imagine, these can include:

  • Occupations that require a lot of standing
  • Active physical hobbies, such as running and sports
  • Faulty foot structure or biomechanically flawed gait

The most common heel pain diagnosis in adults is plantar fasciitis.You can usually identify this condition by the distinctive, sharp pain it causes when you get out of bed in the morning, or up after a long sit. Plantar fasciitis is the result of over-stretching and tearing in a band of tissue (the plantar fascia) running across the bottom of the foot, particularly just underneath the heel.

Other relatively common heel pain conditions include:

  • Heel spurs. These bony deposits may develop over time as a result of untreated plantar fasciitis. They usually are not painful on their own and cause no problems once plantar fasciitis subsides.
  • Achilles tendinitis, which is the result of tearing, inflammation, or degeneration of the “heel cord” on the back of the leg.
  • Haglund’s deformity, which is a bony deformity that manifests as a noticeable hard bump at the back of the heel. Also know as “pump bump” due to its association with women’s footwear.
  • Sever’s disease, an injury to the growth plate of the heel. This condition exclusively affects children and adolescents, especially during the “growth spurt” years.

 

Because heel pain can be caused by so many different conditions, it’s important to establish an accurate diagnosis before developing any treatment plan. We’ll ask you about your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical examination, and any other diagnostic tests we feel are necessary to thoroughly understand your problem.

The good news is that surgical procedures are necessary only in a very small percentage of situations—typically when there is a significant structural problem with the bones of the feet. We offer a range of conservative treatments, from the tried-and-true standbys to advanced therapies, in order to relieve your pain and heal your heels without needing more invasive approaches.