Heel pain has the potential to be a variety of possible problems. The most common complaint we encounter is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. Most commonly this is due to plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of fibrous connective tissue (fascia) running along the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. Although it is common among athletes who run and jump, anyone can become victim to its pain.
The condition occurs when the plantar fascia is strained over time. The idea that this is a problem with a lot of steps over time and not one ‘bad step’ is important. Each of the many steps causes a stretch of the tissue beyond its normal extension, causing the soft tissue fibers of the fascia to tear or stretch. This leads to inflammation, pain, and possibly the growth of a bone spur where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
The pain is most commonly felt sharply at the bottom of the heel. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn anywhere along the band of fascia. The pain is usually worse in the morning when taking the first steps of the day or after standing or sitting for a while. Typically pain is relieved with getting off your feet or carefully stretching, however this provides only temporary relief. When you resume walking often times you may experience the severe pain with sudden elongation of the fascia band.
When the pain gets severe enough to visit the foot and ankle specialist a new perspective of treatment options can be realized. The podiatric physician will examine the area and may perform diagnostic X-rays to rule out problems of the bone.
Early treatment might involve oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medication, exercise and shoe recommendations, taping/strapping, or use of shoe inserts. Stretching remains a mainstay of treatment options. Physical therapy may be used in conjunction with such treatments.
Plantar fasciitis is most commonly resolved within 9 months and rarely needs surgical treatment. The spectrum of heel pain has the potential be caused a variety of issues, consider calling Dr. Jay Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists to schedule an appointment to discuss the most current and proven treatment methods available today.