Heel pain is often a symptom caused by one of two conditions: Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles Tendonitis. Most commonly, heel pain experienced at the bottom of the heel is caused by plantar fasciitis. Heel pain may become so severe for some that just putting weight on their feet first thing in the morning is excruciating. Walking or running may feel completely out of the question.
Many things can cause heel pain. Most commonly seen at our Troy, MI office are heel spurs, which are small growths on the heel bone. Heel pain can be caused from heavy activities and increased weight that put extra pressure on feet. Dr. Weinert often treats heel pain in athletes, runners and women who are pregnant. There are other cases where Dr. Weinert has related a patient?s heel pain to arthritis, stress fractures, fractures, bone tumors, cysts, achilles tendonitis and Haglund's deformity. The main cause of heel pain is usually a biomechanical problem in the foot and it?s, in a nutshell, having a foot out of alignment. There are numerous conditions. One of the most prevalent is called talotarsal dislocation syndrome. What that is in lay terms is you?ve just got a misalignment of your ankle on your heel and as you bear weight you?re getting a collapse of the ankle on the heel causing the foot to be out of alignment. So the plantar fascia, bones, joints, and ligaments receive constant stress. This stress occurs at the point where the plantar fascia (the major tissue that connects your toes to your heel) meets the heel. Many patients explain the pain as being in the middle of the inside of the heel. As a patient bears weight, they get the collapse of the foot and that ligament pulls. And if you think of a rubber band constantly getting pulled on that area of the insertion on the heel, you eventually start getting some micro tears in that ligament and causing inflammation and pain specifically right there in middle area of the heel. Plantar fasciitis is also a common source of heel pain. The plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes, can become strained and inflamed due to overuse and wear and tear. This band of tissue can only withstand so much pressure and when it gives way, the pain can be severe and requires immediate and effective treatment.
Plantar fascia usually causes pain and stiffness on the bottom of your heel although some people have heel spurs and suffer no symptoms at all. Occasionally, heel pain is also associated with other medical disorders such as arthritis (inflammation of the joint), bursitis (inflammation of the tissues around the joint). Those who have symptoms may experience ?First step? pain (stone bruise sensation) after getting out of bed or sitting for a period of time. Pain after driving. Pain on the bottom of your heel. Deep aching pain. Pain can be worse when barefoot.
A biomechanical exam by your podiatrist will help reveal these abnormalities and in turn resolve the cause of plantar fasciitis. By addressing this cause, the patient can be offered a podiatric long-term solution to his problem.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treating plantar fasciitis in the early stages usually allows for a quicker recovery. Left untreated, this condition can progress to the point where there is pain with each and every step. This typically means a return to a pain free day will take much longer. Initial treatments are aimed at reducing stress on the fascia so it can begin to heal. Also, treatment to reduce the associated inflammation is started. These treatments often include: ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, stretching exercises, wearing shoes with appropriate support, taping of the foot and the use of a night splint. If these interventions do not lead to a full resolution, custom shoe inserts, cortisone injections and additional treatment by a physical therapist are often utilized. For patients that fail to respond to all of these efforts, surgical release of the plantar fascia can be a very effective course of action. The good news is this: 95% of the time plantar fasciitis can be fully resolved without the need for surgery. High energy shock wave therapy, sometimes referred to as orthotripsy, is a relatively new treatment that has been shown to be effective 70% of the time in patients that continue to have pain despite extensive non-surgical treatment.
With the advancements in technology and treatments, if you do need to have surgery for the heel, it is very minimal incision that?s done. And the nice thing is your recovery period is short and you should be able to bear weight right after the surgery. This means you can get back to your weekly routine in just a few weeks. Recovery is a lot different than it used to be and a lot of it is because of doing a minimal incision and decreasing trauma to soft tissues, as well as even the bone. So if you need surgery, then your recovery period is pretty quick.
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It may not be possible to prevent all cases of heel pain. However, there are some easy steps that you can take to avoid injury to the heel and prevent pain. Whenever possible, you should wear shoes that fit properly and support the foot, wear the right shoes for physical activity, stretch your muscles before exercising, pace yourself during physical activity, maintain a healthy diet, rest when you feel tired or when your muscles ache, maintain a healthy weight.