4 Common Causes of Heel Pain and How to Treat Them

4 Common Causes of Heel Pain and How to Treat Them

Does heel pain make you dread getting out of bed in the morning? Are you tired of cutting workouts short because your foot hurts too much? It’s time to find answers and start healing.

Heel pain is a common complaint among adults of all ages. Often the result of overuse injuries, the pain can keep you from your favorite activities — but treatment can help you get back on your feet.

In this blog, Lisa Burson, DPMJoe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists share four of the most common causes of heel pain and what to do about them. Here’s what you need to know. 

1. Plantar fasciitis

Your plantar fascia tendon runs the length of your foot, from your heel to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and it develops when your plantar fascia gets irritated.

It isn’t clear what exactly causes plantar fasciitis. Your risk might be higher if you participate in strenuous exercise like running or dancing, you spend long hours on your feet, or you’re overweight. 

Plantar fasciitis is characterized by stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot, under your heel. The pain can strike at any time, but it’s usually worse when you take your first steps in the morning and when you stand up after sitting for a long time.

2. Achilles tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon stretches from your calf muscle to your heel bone, connecting your leg to your foot. Achilles tendonitis is an injury that develops when the tendon gets inflamed.

Most of the time, Achilles tendonitis is because of overuse. Suddenly increasing your activity level or only participating in sports on the weekends can stress the tendon and increase your risk of injury.

At first, Achilles tendonitis feels like mild pain in the back of your heel. The pain may get worse with strenuous activity, like climbing stairs or running. Some people also experience stiffness after periods of rest.

3. Joint inflammation

Your feet have about 30 joints each. These joints can get inflamed just like joints elsewhere in your body, and the inflammation can be a source of heel pain.

Heel bursitis is a common overuse injury that develops when the bursae in your heel get irritated. These bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion your heel bone and your Achilles tendon. The irritation causes pain and swelling behind your heel.

Arthritis is another possible source of heel pain. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis create inflammation in joints. When arthritis develops near your heel bone, it can make your heel stiff, swollen, and painful.

4. Bruising

Your heel pad is a thick layer of fat and muscle tissue. It protects your heel bone when you stand, walk, and run, but overuse can bruise the pad and cause heel pain.

You might bruise your heel if you jump and land hard on your feet, or if you’ve spent a long time walking or running on hard surfaces. Your risk of heel bruising goes up if you wear worn-out shoes or shoes without proper heel cushioning.

Treatment for heel pain

Heel pain can seriously limit your mobility. Fortunately, treatment helps you heal faster. Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun start by examining your heel to diagnose your condition. Then, we develop a comprehensive treatment plan for you.

Mild injuries, like heel pad bruises, should heal on their own with a few days of rest. We may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, ice therapy, or gentle stretches along with rest.

More severe overuse injuries, like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and bursitis, may take several weeks to improve. We recommend rest, activity modification, as well as treatments like physical therapy and corticosteroid injections to accelerate healing.

Find your heel pain treatment plan at The Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bay City, Caro, and Lapeer, Michigan. Contact us online or over the phone to schedule your first appointment.

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