One of the most common reasons that patients seek treatment here at Southern Tier Podiatry is heel pain. There are a variety of issues that can lead to a painful heel, but the good news is that conservative care is helpful in many cases. Your first step to getting the care you need, though, is recognizing that a problem exists and then enlisting the help of our professionals. We will provide treatment so you can receive relief from your aching heels.
As we look at issues that affect the heel and lead to pain, the important anatomical parts are the heel bone (calcaneus) and soft tissues that attach to it, particularly the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Additionally, bursae (fluid-filled sacs) found behind and under heel bones act as cushioning for the soft tissue that glides over the bone.
The most common of all the causes of pain in your heels is plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot and supports the arch. This injury is quickly recognized by the sharp, stabbing pain experienced with the first steps taken following an extended period of rest.
Achilles tendinitis is another source of pain that develops as the result of overuse, particularly for runners or individuals who only participate in athletic completion occasionally. This pain will often start at a low level, but increase in intensity with activity. It then will subside during periods of rest.
Bursitis affects the bursae that are intended to protect the body. When an ankle is used with great frequency, as in running long distances, a bursa can become inflamed and irritated, which causes pain. This particular condition is often associated with Achilles tendinitis.
Some of the other causes for painful heels include fractures, heel spurs, arthritis, and tarsal tunnel syndrome.
The specific course of treatment we will pursue depends, naturally, on the actual injury that was sustained. In many cases, nonsurgical care will help to reduce symptoms and allow the condition to improve. This can include the use of ice, medication, rest, exercises, steroid injections, or custom orthotics. It is always our goal to exhaust nonsurgical procedures as we attempt to improve the situation.
When conservative treatment is not producing the desired results, we will discuss surgery as the possible solution to your problem. In the case of plantar fasciitis, this might entail disconnecting the damaged tissue from the heel area to provide relief. For a heel spur that causes issues, we may suggest removing the calcium deposit. Whatever course of action we think might be best, we will ensure you fully understand your options.
We can treat your heel pain, but it is better not to experience a painful condition in the first place. When it comes to preventative measures, a great place to start is with your choice in footwear. Choosing shoes that are supportive (especially for the arches), have stable heels, and offer ample cushioning can help reduce the risk of many heel problems. Additionally, taking time to warm up prior to activity can help reduce the risk of soft tissue injury. Being careful not to over-train also helps avoid stress fractures. If just starting a new workout program or planning on increasing intensity or duration, slowly ramp up your efforts. Sudden increases in workload place the body, especially the heels, at risk for injury.
Southern Tier Podiatry provides care for patients from the Greater Binghamton community, including Endicott, Johnson City, and Whitney Point. If you are suffering from heel pain, schedule your appointment today at our Vestal, NY office. Simply give us a call at (607) 217-5668 or fill out our online form to contact us.