If you have it, you understand right away the discomfort associated with two simple words: heel pain. You know the feeling. You stand in the morning and the pain is there, right away. You want to sit down, but you know every time you rest it simply feels worse when you stand again. Maybe you’ve hoped that it would disappear with time, but time has passed and you feel no better. Perhaps it has even gotten worse.
Your heels bear a significant portion of your body weight. They are key structures for support and stabilization when you stand or move around. Often they are what strikes first when we set our feet down, unless we’re placing our feet more intentionally. When they become painful, you find your mobility limited. After all, who wants to walk around or even stand when their heels hurt every time they try?
Heel pain has many different causes—issues in the bones, connective tissues, and skin can all create uncomfortable problems for you. Some common heel conditions include:
Haglund’s Deformity — This is a bony growth at the back of the heel. The protrusion can pinch against the Achilles’s tendon, especially while wearing shoes, and lead to painful inflammation and swelling in the area. Often the bump is visible at the back of the heel and the irritated area appears red.
Heel Callus — Calluses are thickened layers of dead skin. They form in areas that experience high pressure or friction in order to add extra protection. Unfortunately, the added layers can become painful. The thick skin presses against the heel when you walk or wear shoes, stressing the structures underneath.
Heel Fissures — Sometimes the skin on the bottom edge of the foot around the heel becomes thickened, dry, and flaky. This leaves it prone to cracks. Beyond being embarrassing and unsightly, these fissures can be quite deep and even bleed, leaving you uncomfortable and vulnerable to infection.
Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Spurs) — One of the most common causes of heel pain is the inflammation of the long tendon that runs along the sole of the foot, called the plantar fascia. It can become tightened or strained for many different reasons. Sometimes its irritation results from additional pressure created by bony protrusions on the bottom of the foot, called heel spurs.
The Good News
Fortunately, most conditions related to heel pain can be treated using conservative, noninvasive measures. Shoe adjustments, orthotics, physical therapy, and pain medications are typically very effective in reducing your discomfort and eliminating the irritation causing the pain. Only in cases where the discomfort is severe or conservative remedies have been ineffective does surgery become an option. Even then, advances in medicine have transformed these procedures from large cuts with long recovery times into smaller incisions with quicker healing.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from heel pain, you do not have to deal with the problem by hoping it goes away on its own. Most heel conditions have easy, conservative remedies that produce real results. Relief begins when you seek treatment. Contact Pequest Foot and Ankle Specialists for an appointment or more information and deal with your discomfort. You can reach our office in Belvidere by calling (908) 475-8750 or simply click the “Contact Us” page.