Heel pain is one of the most common symptoms we see, among patients of all ages – from youth athletes all the way up to senior citizens.
While moderate aches and pains from time to time are almost unavoidable, persistent heel pain that lasts for many days, or keeps you from living an active lifestyle, should always be evaluated by a podiatrist.
The good news is that most cases of heel pain will resolve with conservative treatments. However, because it is a symptom rather than a condition itself—and so many causes and factors can lead to it—a professional evaluation gives you the benefit of an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment options.
What’s Causing My Heel Pain?
Some of the most common heel pain conditions we diagnose include:
- Plantar fasciitis. Pain is usually located underneath the heel and is caused by inflammation or tearing in the plantar fascia ligament along the bottom of the foot. The discomfort is often worst right after getting out of bed.
- Sever’s disease. This is the most common heel pain condition in active children and teenagers. At this age the soft growth plate of the heel remains exposed and vulnerable to injury from overuse.
- Achilles tendinitis. Inflammation or tearing in the Achilles tendon often causes pain at the back of the heel, or just above it.
- Bursitis. Inflammation of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac meant to provide cushioning and lubrication in a joint. This typically occurs along the back of the heel.
- Heel spurs. Bony calcium deposits, or spurs, may develop and grow on the heel bone in response to chronic, untreated plantar fasciitis. These spurs sometimes cause pain and irritation independent of the plantar fasciitis.
Heel pain conditions can emerge for a mix of reason. Common underlying risk factors include:
- Poor footwear
- Active hobbies or occupations that require a lot of standing and walking
- Structural foot problems (such as flat feet)
How Is Heel Pain Treated?
At Waukesha Foot Specialists, we prefer to treat heel pain using conservative treatments whenever possible. Fortunately, surgery is rarely necessary.
After we perform a physical examination, diagnose your condition, and talk to you about your symptoms, history, and lifestyle goals, we may recommend a combination of several treatment strategies, including:
- Temporary rest
- Icing the heel periodically
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Stretches and exercises
- Behavior or activity modifications (for example, running on flatter terrain or placing a cushioned mat at your workstation)
- Splints to wear at night that keep your plantar fascia elongated
- Better shoes
- Custom orthotics
Many heel pain problems will only get worse over time if you don’t take steps to correct and remedy them early on. To get the very best treatment possible, please contact our Waukesha office at the first sign of trouble. You can schedule an appointment by calling (262) 544-0700.