The heel plays a very important function in the body. It is weight-bearing, shock-absorbing, it contributes to balance and stability, and serves as a lever for propelling the body forward. From the moment you get up to when you prepare to go to bed, you are on your feet, thus your heels. It is no surprise then that heel pain is one of the most commonly treated issues by foot and ankle specialists or podiatrists.
If you are experiencing heel pain, you may be wondering what could be causing it. While there is no replacing a medical professional’s diagnosis, below, we discuss some of the most common causes and types of heel pain and share with you where you can go for the highest quality podiatry care in South Texas.
What are the Causes of Heel Pain?
There are many possible causes of heel pain. Some of the most common causes are:
1. Plantar Fasciitis
An estimated 2 million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis, making it the most common cause of heel pain. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a soft tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed.
Plantar fasciitis is a type of overuse stress injury. Common causes include running or jumping activities or repeated contact on a hard surface.
2. Achilles Tendinitis
This condition involves inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which is a tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is an overuse injury commonly seen in athletes or people who engage in activities that put stress on the Achilles tendon, such as runners and basketball players.
3. Heel Spurs
Heel spurs are calcium deposits that can develop and poke out on the underside of the heel bone, as a response to stress and inflammation from plantar fasciitis. For many people, heel spurs cause ongoing heel pain.
4. Stress Fractures
Another type of overuse injury is stress fractures. These are tiny cracks in the bones of the foot, from repetitive motions, such as what’s required in jogging, long-distance running, dancing, and track and field sports. Stress fractures can develop in the heel bone itself, called a calcaneal stress fracture, leading to pain.
Bursae are lubricated, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints in the foot. When these become inflamed, it can cause heel pain. Heel pain from bursitis causes tenderness, a feeling that is similar to when you have a bruise. Heel bursitis can occur after spending a long time on your feet.
6. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis, which is an autoimmune condition, has the potential to cause heel pain from the inflammation of the Achilles tendinitis. Approximately 10 percent of psoriatic arthritis sufferers experience heel pain.
What are the Common Symptoms of Heel Pain?
Some of the symptoms you may experience include:
The pain is usually felt near the bottom of the heel or on the underside of the foot. The pain may be described as sharp, stabbing, or dull, and it may come and go. With plantar fasciitis, it is usually worse first thing in the morning.
2. Pain Upon Weight-Bearing
Heel pain is typically most severe when you first stand up after periods of rest or when you start walking. This is common with plantar fasciitis, but also with Achilles tendonitis and heel bone fractures.
3. Pain After Activity
Many people with heel pain experience an increase in discomfort after activities like walking, running, or standing for extended periods. Again, plantar fasciitis also causes pain after periods of activity.
Some individuals may experience stiffness in the heel or foot, especially in the morning or after long periods of inactivity. Plantar fasciitis or arthritis commonly cause stiffness.
5. Swelling or Redness
Depending on the cause, there may be visible signs of inflammation such as swelling or redness around the affected area. Bursitis and psoriatic arthritis commonly cause swelling in the foot.
The heel area may feel tender and sensitive to touch, possibly due to the swelling inside. Bursitis, plantar fasciitis, and heel spurs can cause tenderness in the heel area.
7. An Altered Gait
Heel pain can cause changes in your gait, mostly from avoiding putting weight on the affected foot.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Heel Pain?
Studies show that heel pain has a negative effect on quality of life. For this reason, heel pain should be addressed as early as possible. If heel pain persists or worsens, consult a foot and ankle specialist for the right treatment.
Heel Pain Treatment in San Antonio, Boerne, Hondo, Floresville, Kenedy, Uvalde, and Live Oak, TX
Don’t deal with your heel pain alone. Entrust your care to the foot and ankle doctors at The Podiatry Group of South Texas. We have a highly experienced team of podiatrists ready to serve your podiatric needs. To schedule an appointment, call our location nearest you or use our online request form.