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4 Common Causes of Heel Pain

4 Common Causes of Heel Pain

Your feet can withstand a huge burden, but they aren’t indestructible. Too much tension stresses them out and paves the way for problems like heel pain, which is the most common foot and ankle problem. If you give your hurting heel ample rest, heel pain often resolves on its own. However, this isn’t always the case, and it’s important to know when to seek the help of a foot and ankle specialist. 

Don’t ignore persistent heel pain or put off having your feet checked. Andrew Bernhard, DPM and Kaitlyn Bernhard, DPM of Tussey Mountain Foot & Ankle Specialists provide exceptional podiatry care to the State College, Pennsylvania community. Let’s discuss what might be going on when your heels start causing you pain. 

Your heels and you

Feet are the unsung heroes of the body. They bear your weight and act as shock absorbers so that you can move freely. Heels are put through considerable stress, making it no surprise when pain and other problems strike. 

When heel pain becomes a more chronic problem that lasts more than three months, it’s time to seek professional help. It's always best to seek the advice of a specialist, such as those at Tussey Mountain Foot & Ankle Specialists, to help you identify your problem and find a solution.

Left untreated, heel pain can cause a number of complications and put your foot health in jeopardy. The following are four common issues. 

1. Persistent heel inflammation

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a strong ligament that runs the length of your foot, becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is intended to absorb shock and support your arches. 

Though this painful condition can be caused by excess weight, insufficient arch support, or tight Achilles tendons, having naturally high arches also increases the risk.

Plantar fasciitis develops when the membrane of your plantar fascia tears and becomes irritated over time. Numerous therapies are available, depending on the extent of your plantar fascia damage. They range from customized insoles, which support the arch and relieve pressure on the nerve, to cortisone injections and, in some cases, surgery.

2. Irritated Achilles tendon

Achilles tendonitis is a swelling of the Achilles tendon, which connects your ankle to your heel bone. Achilles tendonitis causes pain in the back of your heel, just above the heel bone. Tightness and strain in your ankle, morning stiffness in your heel and calf, and burning pain when walking are all possible symptoms.

Overuse, such as running long distances or up and down hills, can cause this condition. If you fail to seek medical attention, you may tear or rupture your Achilles tendon. Left untreated, Achilles tendonitis can cause chronic problems. 

3. Fallen arch

Flat feet, often known as fallen arches, may not cause pain in the beginning, but over time the redistribution of weight can lead to issues like heel pain. Because of the extra strain exerted on the tendons and ligaments in that area as a result of the lack of arch support, heel pain is common.

Flat feet can affect both or just one foot. You may also feel discomfort in your legs, hips, and back, as well as the arch of your foot. When you get up after sitting for a long time, or when you wake up in the morning, you may feel stiff.

These symptoms can increase over time because flat feet generate an unequal distribution of body weight. Flat feet can be inherited, the result of an injury, a muscle ailment, arthritis, or weak ankles. Your doctor may recommend custom orthotics or arch-supporting insoles. 

4. Bony growths

Heel spurs are bony calcium deposits on the underside of your heel. A heel spur is typically caused by untreated issues like plantar fasciitis. The strain you put on your feet by stretching the fascia can also cause painful heel spurs.

Other causes include repetitive heel stress, such as jogging on hard surfaces, obesity, and insufficient arch support. Your provider may recommend orthotic insoles or shoes, nightly splints, exercises, or physical therapy. In many cases, however, surgery is necessary.

Restore pain-free living

Don’t ignore the warning signs of heel pain. Let the experienced podiatry team of Tussey Mountain Foot & Ankle help you get back on your feet pain-free. To get started, call our State College, Pennsylvania office to schedule a visit with one of our providers.

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