The phrase “nothing is certain but death and taxes” could be changed to “nothing is certain but death and taxes—and heel pain.” Heel pain happens to a lot of people. It occurs in the back or the bottom of the heel. However, many wait years to visit a doctor. That’s because the condition usually develops over time. As your pain increases, so does your tolerance in some cases. However, if your foot is constantly swelling up and preventing normal activities, it’s time to visit Dr. Brian McDowell at the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. He can walk you through the possible causes for your pain and rule out the ones that don’t fit your symptoms.
Many Causes, Many Symptoms
Plantar Fasciitis - With overuse, the plantar fascia that connects the heel to the toes becomes inflamed. The tissue stretches and tears when you try to walk or run, which can make your first steps in the morning quite painful. This condition progresses over time and is the most common cause of heel pain.
Medial Calcaneal Neuritis - Many patients come to us with the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. In reality, they have medial calcaneal neuritis, which is obviously a whole different problem that is treated completely differently.
Achilles Tendinitis - The back of your heel is the area where Achilles tendinitis appears. The pain is felt behind the ankle where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. When you repeatedly strain and continue to irritate the tendon, it stretches and tears. If you are a frequent runner or walker, you have a higher risk of getting this. There are many new treatments available for this condition.
Plantar Heel Spurs - An extra growth of bone on the bottom of your heel is the token indicator of a heel spur. However, when you can’t see the bump of the bone, it’s called heel spur syndrome. Either way, the condition is caused by strain on the tissue that joins the heel to the ball of the foot. This can develop from improper foot structure, running, or bad shoes. Unfortunately, many patients feel that if you remove the heel spur it will resolve heel pain. That is never the case.
Posterior Heel Spurs - They are very painful and located on the back of the heel at the insertion of the Achilles tendon.
Haglund’s Deformity - This occurs on the back of the heel bone near the Achilles tendon. It is an enlarged protrusion, also known as “pump bump.”
Pronation - When you step on a surface, your heel hits the ground first and shifts your weight to the outside of your foot and onward to your big toes. During this, the arch rises and provides stability to push your body towards the next step. When you have excessive pronation, your foot rolls inward or outward too much, putting strain on the ligaments and tissues and causing pain in the heels.
Sports Injuries - Any type of heel pain might go unnoticed when you’re playing the sport, but could show up after. This is mainly because the area has probably been bruised by direct contact, which could happen if someone steps on the back of your heel with a cleat, or kicks your heel by mistake.
We Will Treat You Right
When you come into our office, we may use X-rays to determine whether your pain is coming from your bones, tissues, muscles, or ligaments. We will give you exercises and stretches to keep your tissues flexible, and also recommend rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed to lessen the swelling and redness. We might also tape or strap the area to relieve pain. If your case is more severe, physical therapy and orthotics could be recommended. For most people, surgery is not necessary.
Get Heel Pain to Get Out—and Stay Out
Make sure you wear shoes that support your feet. This will prevent you from developing any unusual walking movements to compensate for poor structure. Also, wear the best shoes for whatever activity in which you’re participating. For example, don’t wear flip flops to go play soccer with your friends, even if it’s just for a small pick-up game.
No pain is normal. Call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434 or make an appointment with Dr. Brian McDowell online. If you want more advice about how to take care of your feet and diagnose your pain, follow us on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.