Heel Pain causes and treatment

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Heel Pain causes and treatment

Common causes of heel pain include:

Heel pain is usually caused by plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.  This develops from walking in a way that places too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. This stress may result from injury, walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces, wearing footwear with no support or being overweight.

Heel Spurs: A bony growth on the underside of the heel bone. The spur, visible by X-ray, appears as a protrusion that can extend forward as much as half an inch. When there is no indication of bone enlargement, the condition is sometimes referred to as "heel spur syndrome." Heel spurs result from strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot, by stretching of the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot, and by repeated tearing away of the lining or membrane that covers the heel bone.  During the healing process often small boney growths develop a heel spur.  These conditions may result from trauma, biomechanical imbalance, running or jogging, improperly fitted or excessively worn shoes.

Plantar Fasciitis: Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of fibrous connective tissue (fascia) running along the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. This is one of the biggest complaints seen in Podiatry offices and there are many ways to treat it.  


Resting provides some temporary relief of heel pain. But, when you resume walking, especially after a night's sleep, first thing in the morning, the band along the bottom of the foot is stretched by your foot hitting the floor and it is painful.  This pulling allows micro tears that bring fluid to the area and this causes severe pain.  After you walk for a while it usually gets a little better because some of the fluid is squeezed out, but after sitting again it will likely hurt on "first step" when you get up.

Another cause of heel pain excessive motion or pronation, in the foot. Pronation is the normal flexible motion and flattening of the arch of the foot that allows it to adapt to ground surfaces and absorb shock in the normal walking pattern. If there is too much or 'excessive motion' controlling this motion often brings relief of the heel pain and plantar fasciitis symptoms.  

Treatment varies; injections, laser treatment, new supportive shoes, orthotics and inserts along with stretching exercises can all help. During sleep the feet fall forward and the band or fascia along the bottom of our feet shortens, when you stand up the band is immediately lengthened and this along with full body weight on the shortened band causes stretching and pain, a night splint can be worn to prevent the band from shortening while sleeping and stretching exercises can be done before standing in the morning to lengthen that band. 

Podiatrists are trained in the structure and function of the foot and are your first line of defense against persistent heel pain.  Feet hurt?  See a Podiatrist.

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