Around here, heel pain is as common a complaint as being hot! However, while the weather is obviously to blame for Texas temperatures, heel pain can have any number of causes. That’s why it’s important to have your pain checked out, so the correct diagnosis can be made, and thus the right treatment plan can be put in place to return you to pain-free days. In other words, finding out why your heel hurts is the first step toward making it stop!
Where Does It Hurt?
Beneath the Heel Blues – when the pain you are feeling is located under your heel, it can signify a stone bruise, likely the result of a diminished fatty pad or simply stepping on a rock. However, the more likely culprit is plantar fasciitis – the most common cause of heel pain.
Your plantar fascia is a band of fibrous tissues connecting your heel to your toes. When this band becomes overstressed and inflamed, it can pull on and irritate the heel bone resulting in sharp pain beneath your heel, especially after times of rest. Heel spurs often accompany this condition, as the constant pulling on the bone can start to form a hook-like protrusion, adding to the problem.
Behind the Heel Bummers – pain in the back of your heel is often a sign of Achilles tendinitis, another common overuse injury, seen mostly in runners and active individuals. While your Achilles is the strongest tendon in your body, it can still become overworked and stressed to the point of swelling and causing pain.
Discomfort on the back of your heel can also be indicative of a condition known as Haglund’s deformity, or “pump bump.” This is characterized by a bony bump where your Achilles attaches to your heel bone in the back. Stiff-backed heels (like those found on women’s pumps) are often to blame as they press on the bone there. This aggravation can also lead to bursitis.
Of course, there are plenty of other heel pain contributors, including fractures, or faulty foot structures that cause poor biomechanics, but no matter its source, the key to getting rid of your pain is getting to the bottom of it!
How is it treated?
Once we determine what’s causing your heel pain, we can then determine the best treatment options for you. Solutions, of course, depend on the condition, and can range from lifestyle changes to laser therapy to surgery. However, it is common for most treatments to involve the following:
Rest – Taking a break from activities that are causing you pain will give your body the time it needs to heal. It’s important to take enough time off, and to gradually return to activities – slow and steady wins the fight against heel pain!
Ice and medication – Icing the area will help ease pain and decrease swelling. Anti-inflammatory medication can help with this as well.
Stretches – There are stretches and exercises we can show you that will aid in not only minimizing painful symptoms, but also preventing problems in the first place.
A switch in shoes – You’d be surprised how many issues can be resolved by simply wearing proper footwear that fits well and provides ample amounts of support and cushion.
Custom orthotics – If the support and cushion of your shoes just aren’t enough, orthotics can be designed to provide exactly what you need. They can also redistribute weight and take pressure away from your heel, as well as hold your foot in proper alignment -- especially helpful for those whose heel pain stems from abnormal foot structure or poor biomechanics.
Weight management – Having to support an excessive amount of weight can wreak havoc on your heels. Eating right and exercising regularly will help you maintain a weight that is healthy for both your heels and you!
If you are struggling with heel pain, don’t let it get so bad that it interferes with your daily life and keeps you from participating in the activities you enjoy. Call our Houston, TX office to make an appointment by dialing (281) 497-2850. We’ll figure out why your heels are hurting and get you back to pain-free living as soon as possible.