Anyone who has ever experienced heel pain knows just how uncomfortable and debilitating it can be. Heel pain can hit at anytime and completely change your day, mood, and level of productivity. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, approximately 40 percent of Americans complain of heel pain every single year. There are many different causes of heel pain, from wearing the wrong shoes to repetitive strain and the natural aging process. Similarly, there is also a wide range of conditions that could be the culprit of heel pain.
The first step (no pun intended) to knowing what to do about heel pain is determining what is causing it. In some cases the sufferer experienced pain under the heel (usually a sign of plantar fasciitis) or just behind the heel (typically Achilles tendinitis), but there are other symptoms of heel pain that may not be quite as straightforward as a diagnosis. The good news about heel pain is that, even though it can be severe and even disabling at times, it is very rarely a health threat. The majority of heel pain cases we treat here at our Dallas foot therapy clinic are mild and disappear either on their own or with a bit of physical therapy.
About the Foot
The foot has 26 bones, of which the heel is the largest. This sturdy bone is designed to provide support for the rest of the body, which is a pretty hefty task if you think about it. Most of us don’t give our feet or heels much thought, until they start hurting, of course. The heel takes the brunt of action as we walk, run, partake in sporting activities, and so much more. According to experts, the stress placed on a foot when walking is likely 1.25 times our body weight, and nearly 3 times our weight when running. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise the heel is susceptible to damage and is plagued by pain for many of us.
Common Causes of Heel Pain
Now that we have a better understanding of what the heel’s job is and how much force it must withstand, let’s look at the most common causes of heel pain:
- Plantar Fasciitis – The number one cause of heel pain for most adults is plantar fasciitis. A shocking 2 million people are faced with this condition every single year. Plantar fasciitis usually affects the bottom of the heel and maybe even the outer side of the arch. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs alongside the arch of the foot, connecting a person’s toes to the heel. Repeated motion and pressure can cause the fascia to become inflamed, resulting in mild to severe pain.
- Achilles Tendonitis – The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body, connecting the calf with the heel bone. Wear and tear on the calf, repetitive motion, standing for a prolonged period of time, and certain activities can cause inflammation in the tendon, resulting in pain in the heel. It should be noted that Achilles pain and injuries are some of the hardest to recover from.
- Stress Fracture – People who suddenly pick up jogging or increase the amount the walk may put excess stress on the heel, which can result in bruising or a small crack in the heel bone, also referred to as a stress fracture.
- Arthritis – Arthritis is a common condition of aging that causes inflammation of the joints, including your feet. Individuals with flat feet are at a higher risk than others of developing arthritis. Even though most people experience inflammation in the middle of the foot, it can affect the heel bone and surrounding joints.
If you are experiencing heel pain, please contact NeuroSpine Surgical Consultants today and schedule a consultation. Our experienced therapists will sit down with you and take a look at your feet and structure, working to determine what the underlying cause of your pain is and how to treat it effectively.