More than 20 percent of patients visit foot specialists because of Heel Pain
approximately one-third of all patients I see come because of this problem. Over 50 percent of Americans will experience heel pain during their lifetime. The most common form of heel pain is known as
plantar fasciitis or "heel spur syndrome." The plantar fascia is a thick ligament on the bottom of your foot spanning from your heel to the base of your toes. It supports the arch and several muscles
under the bones that support the foot. Overtime, most people will develop some degree of calcification within these muscles on the bottom of their heel called a "spur."
Rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis, including gout, which usually manifests itself in the big toe joint, can cause heel discomfort in some cases. Heel pain may also be the result of an
inflamed bursa (bursitis), a small, irritated sack of fluid behind the heel. A neuroma (a nerve growth) involving the so-called Baxter's Nerve, (a nerve that courses under the heel bone), may also
cause heel pain that mimics the pain of a heel spur. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, a pinched nerve beneath the inside ankle bone, too, can cause pain in the heel. Haglund's deformity ("pump bump") is a
bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone, in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone. This sometimes painful deformity generally is the result of bursitis caused by pressure
against the shoe, and can be aggravated by the height or stitching of a heel counter of a particular shoe. Pain at the back of the heel is associated with inflammation of the Achilles tendon as it
runs behind the ankle and inserts on the back surface of the heel bone. The inflammation is called Achilles tendinitis. It is common among people who run and walk a lot and have tight tendons. The
condition occurs when the tendon is strained over time, causing the fibbers to tear or stretch along its length, or at its insertion on to the heel bone. This leads to inflammation, pain, and the
possible growth of a bone spur on the back of the heel bone. The inflammation is aggravated by the chronic irritation that sometimes accompanies an active lifestyle and certain activities that strain
an already tight tendon. Bone bruises (Periostitis), are also common heel injuries. A bone bruise or contusion is an inflammation of the tissues that cover the heel bone. A bone bruise is a sharply
painful injury caused by the direct impact of a hard object or surface on the foot. Stress fractures of the heel bone also can occur, but these are less frequent. On very rare occasions, there can be
problems within the bone structure itself that cause heel pain. Paget's disease, cysts, bone tumours, and other conditions can occur in the heel causing pain, so it is important to be examined
See your doctor immediately if you have Severe pain and swelling near your heel. Inability to bend your foot downward, rise on your toes or walk normally. Heel pain with fever, numbness or tingling
in your heel. Severe heel pain immediately after an injury. Schedule an office visit if you have. Heel pain that continues when you're not walking or standing. Heel pain that lasts more than a few
weeks, even after you've tried rest, ice and other home treatments.
After you have described your foot symptoms, your doctor will want to know more details about your pain, your medical history and lifestyle, including. Whether your pain is worse at specific times of
the day or after specific activities. Any recent injury to the area. Your medical and orthopedic history, especially any history of diabetes, arthritis or injury to your foot or leg. Your age and
occupation. Your recreational activities, including sports and exercise programs. The type of shoes you usually wear, how well they fit, and how frequently you buy a new pair. Your doctor will
examine you, including. An evaluation of your gait. While you are barefoot, your doctor will ask you to stand still and to walk in order to evaluate how your foot moves as you walk. An examination of
your feet. Your doctor may compare your feet for any differences between them. Then your doctor may examine your painful foot for signs of tenderness, swelling, discoloration, muscle weakness and
decreased range of motion. A neurological examination. The nerves and muscles may be evaluated by checking strength, sensation and reflexes. In addition to examining you, your health care
professional may want to examine your shoes. Signs of excessive wear in certain parts of a shoe can provide valuable clues to problems in the way you walk and poor bone alignment. Depending on the
results of your physical examination, you may need foot X-rays or other diagnostic tests.
Non Surgical Treatment
Recommended treatments, heel Spurs: cushioning for the heel is of little value. Your chiropodist/podiatrist may initially apply padding and strapping to alter the direction of stretch of the
ligament. This is often successful at reducing the tenderness in the short term. Your chiropodist/podiatrist may suggest a course of deep heat therapy to stimulate the healing processes, allowing
damage to respond and heal faster. In the long term, your chiropodist/podiatrist may prescribe special insoles (orthoses) to help the feet to function more effectively, thereby reducing strain on the
ligaments and making any recurrence less likely. If pain from heel spurs continues, you may be referred to your GP who can prescribe an oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Alternatively, localised
hydrocortisone injection treatment may be given by your GP or an appropriate chiropodist/podiatrist. If pain persists, surgery may be considered. Heel Bursitis: in most cases, attention to the cause
of any rubbing, and appropriate padding and strapping by your chiropodist/podiatrist will allow the inflammation to settle. If infection is present, your chiropodist/podiatrist will refer you to your
GP for antibiotics. Heel Bumps: adjustments to footwear is often enough to make them comfortable. A leather heel counter and wearing boots may help. However, if pain persists, surgery may be
Surgery is a last resort in the treatment of heel pain. Physicians have developed many procedures in the last 100 years to try to cure heel pain. Most procedures that are commonly used today focus on
several areas, remove the bone spur (if one is present), release the plantar fascia (plantar fasciotomy), release pressure on the small nerves in the area. Usually the procedure is done through a
small incision on the inside edge of the foot, although some surgeons now perform this type of surgery using an endoscope. An endoscope is a tiny TV camera that can be inserted into a joint or under
the skin to allow the surgeon to see the structures involved in the surgery. By using the endoscope, a surgeon can complete the surgery with a smaller incision and presumably less damage to normal
tissues. It is unclear whether an endoscopic procedure for this condition is better than the traditional small incision. Surgery usually involves identifying the area where the plantar fascia
attaches to the heel and releasing the fascia partially from the bone. If a small spur is present this is removed. The small nerves that travel under the plantar fascia are identified and released
from anything that seems to be causing pressure on the nerves. This surgery can usually be done on an outpatient basis. This means you can leave the hospital the same day.
You can reduce the risk of heel pain in many ways, including. Wear shoes that fit you properly with a firm fastening, such as laces. Choose shoes with shock-absorbent soles and supportive heels.
Repair or throw out any shoes that have worn heels. Always warm up and cool down when exercising or playing sport, include plenty of slow, sustained stretches. If necessary, your podiatrist will show
you how to tape or strap your feet to help support the muscles and ligaments. Shoe inserts (orthoses) professionally fitted by your podiatrist can help support your feet in the long term.