Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the long, dense band of connective tissue (the plantar fascia) that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot.
Repeated strain on the plantar fascia can cause tiny tears in the ligament. As tension and tearing increases, so does inflammation and irritation of the affected area. Risk factors of plantar fasciitis include foot arch problems (flat foot and high arches); excess weight; running; and a tight Achilles tendon.
The most common complaint of plantar fasciitis is pain in the bottom of the heel that develops gradually. The pain is usually worse in the morning and after sitting or standing for a long period of time. For some, the pain subsides after walking or stretching.
To reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis:
- Rest. Limit and/or avoid activities that make your heel hurt.
- Ice. Reduce pain and swelling by icing the affected area each day.
- Stretch. Stretch your heel throughout the day, especially when you first wake up in the morning.
- Footwear modifications. Wear shoes that provide good arch support and a cushioned sole. Ask your podiatrist about pads and shoe inserts to relieve your heel pain.
When conservative treatments aren't effective or your pain persists for more than a few weeks, schedule an appointment with Howard Schaengold, DPM to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. A podiatrist can recommend an appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs. This may include, stretching exercises, shoe padding, orthotic devices, night splints or therapy. Most patients respond to non-surgical treatments, but for pain that won't go away, surgery may be considered.
With proper rest and treatment, recovering from plantar fasciitis can take just a few months. Visit us at Howard Schaengold, DPM when you first experience pain for a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs.