Houston Ankle and Foot Specialist
Heel pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are several common causes. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you have pain, some causes include:
Common Causes of Heel Pain
Plantar fasciitis is the most common condition that causes heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is due to irritation and inflammation of the tight tissue that forms the arch of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain on the bottom of the heel that is often felt upon weight bearing after rest, such as when taking your first steps in the morning or when standing up after prolonged sitting. There are many treatments that people use for plantar fasciitis including ice application, anti-inflammatory medications, footwear modification, stretching, and others. Often it takes time and avoidance on aggravating activities in order for the body to fully recover from this condition.
Achilles tendonitis is inflammation due to overuse or trauma to the Achilles tendon, the large cord-like tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone. The pain is usually located at the part of the tendon that is slightly above the heel bone, although this can also cause pain directly at the insertion of the tendon on the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis often causes nagging pain that may take months or longer to resolve.
Some simple treatments including ice, anti-inflammatory medications, or heel wedges can be helpful, but in more advanced situations, the foot may need to be immobilized for a time.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome causes a large nerve in the back of the foot to become pinched. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand, tarsal tunnel syndrome can cause heel pain.
In addition, other nerve symptoms such as numbness and tingling can occur in people who have this condition.
Stress fractures of the calcaneus are an uncommon cause of heel pain. Stress fractures should be considered especially in athletes such as long distance runners who have heel pain. Often these symptoms occur gradually over time, especially when a running is increasing their milage.
Heel Bursitis 'Pump Bump'
Bursitis is inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that lies between a tendon and bone. Retrocalcaneal bursitis causes pain deep in the back of the heel and is the result of inflammation of a bursa that lies beneath the Achilles tendon where it attaches to the back of the heel bone. Another type of bursitis occurs from the shoe rubbing against a bony prominence on the heel bone. This results in pain, redness, and sometimes swelling on the upper part of the back of the heel.
When to Call the Doctor
If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention. Treatment of heel pain must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor include:
- Inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
- Heel pain that occurs at night or while resting
- Heel pain that persists beyond a few days
- Swelling or discoloration of the back of the foot
- Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
- Any other unusual symptoms
RIVERA FOOT & ANKLE: At Orlando H.Rivera DPM, our priority is to deliver quality care to informed patients in a comfortable and convenient setting. When you have problems with your feet, you need to turn to a podiatrist who listens and responds… an experienced doctor who knows the field and can effectively diagnose and treat your needs… a friendly physician who counsels you on the best ways to maintain and improve your health. Our physician(s) meet all these criteria. Plus, you benefit from a dedicated team of trained professionals who give you the individualized attention you deserve.
Houston Foot and Ankle Specialist
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