“My heel hurts the minute I get up.”
This is the most common way to describe one of the most frequent reasons patients see a podiatrist. Heel pain affects more than 2 million people each year. It affects people of all ages. As you walk, your heel moves, changing the tension on the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot. With proper heel movement, walking is effortless and pain free. However, if there is something that interferes with this normal rhythm of movement, the soft tissues around the heel bone: the fascia, muscles and tendons become irritated and inflamed. This is typically a result of a strain or overuse situation.
Heel pain is typically characterized by pain and stiffness in the morning or after periods of sitting and resting. The condition often begins to develop along the thick band of fibrous tissue called the plantar fascia that supports the arch, serves as an attachment for the muscles of the foot, and acts as a shock absorber.
The ability of the plantar fascia to act as a shock absorber can be compromised by altered foot mechanics, increasing repetitive activities like running or walking without proper conditioning, wearing poorly supportive or old worn out shoes, weight gain or the natural process of aging. Also, there are a number of other medical conditions that can also cause heel pain besides plantar fasciitis. This is why prompt treatment is always the best approach to resolution.
On your first visit, a review of your medical history and a foot examination is the beginning point of treatment. Typically, X-rays are taken to assist in making an accurate diagnosis.
There is no single type of treatment for heel pain. In many cases multiple forms of treatment are employed to promote proper healing. Medication, shoe modification, physical therapy, therapeutic exercise, shoe inserts, custom made orthotics and other therapies are can all be part of the treatment process.
Heel pain rarely goes away on its own. With prompt, proper treatment, the pain and inconvenience can be minimized and resolved with a return to a normal unrestricted lifestyle.