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Stamping Out Heel Pain

Heel pain is a common problem that troubles people of all ages. Heel pain can be caused by the way your feet move or by the way your legs and feet are built. It can be the result of an injury or a medical problem that affects your entire body. To achieve the best long-term results, podiatrists treat not only your heel pain but also the underlying cause of the problem

If Heel Pain Ruins Your Day

Heel pain comes in many shapes and sizes. For many sufferers it is worse when first getting out of bed in the morning or after resting. The pain may improve after walking around, but typically returns after being on the feet a while.

Anatomy from the Ground Up

The heel bone, the largest bone in the foot, is called the calcaneus. It absorbs several times the body’s weight with each step. The Achilles tendon, one of the strongest in the body, is attached to the back of the heel and propels the body forward. The flat broad tendon, the plantar fascia, attaches underneath the heel and extends out to the toes, helping to support the arch.

Causes of Heel Pain

Some of the most common causes of heel pain are:

Heel Spur. A bony outgrowth on the underside of the heel bone. A heel spur may become painful when first forming or after it has been present for several years.

Fasciitis. Excessive pulling of the plantar fascia where it attaches to the heel can cause swelling and inflammation. This may be the result of a biomechanical fault such as a flat or high arched foot.

Sever’s disease. While the foot is still growing, the growth plate in the heel may become irritated. Most often this occurs in active children ages 8-14.

Bursitis. A fluid filled sack under a bony prominence, such as under the heel bone, can become irritated and painful due to excessive forces that act upon it.

Pump Bump. A bony outgrowth that develops on the back of the heel bone. It is aggravated by high heeled shoes (pumps).

Stress fracture. A crack in the heel bone that is noticeable during extended activities and when touching the injured areas.

Treatment Plan

Depending on the diagnosis, your podiatrist may recommend one or more types of treatment:

Padding may be helpful to relieve pressure from sensitive areas under the heel.

Orthotics are used to correct a biomechanical problem. Orthotics are special inserts, made from a mold of the patient’s feet, which control the abnormal motion called pronation.

Injections of cortisone can decrease the inflammation and pain of the heel during acute stages.

Surgery. In some cases surgery is the best solution to remove the offending portion of bone, such as a heel spur, and relax the tight fascia tendon under the heel.

 
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