Heel pain is a very common foot-related medical complaint, especially among athletes, those who stand on their feet for long periods of time, and older men and women. Some of the most common causes of heel pain include:
Having an in-depth evaluation of heel pain is the best way to ensure the most appropriate care is provided.
The plantar fascia is a strong band of tough, fibrous tissue that extends across the bottom of the foot from the heel to the ball of the foot. In addition to providing support for the curved arch portion of the foot, the plantar fascia also promotes flexibility in the foot. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed. The most common causes are age-related wear and tear or direct injury. People who are obese and those who spend long periods of time on their feet are also at greater risk for plantar fasciitis, as are some athletes.
Heel spurs are small, bony growths that protrude from the edges of the heel. They’re a common cause of pain in the heel, and they can also irritate the plantar fascia and surrounding soft tissues, causing widespread discomfort.
Heel pain is diagnosed with a physical examination of the heel and a thorough review of the symptoms, including what tends to cause symptoms to occur. In some cases, diagnostic imaging may also be ordered.
Treatment for heel pain depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms. Some conditions can be treated with physical therapy or splinting to gently stretch and support inflamed tissues or to provide support to an injured area while it heals. Other issues may require PRP injections or surgery to correct. Problems that are recurrent or are caused by gait problems may respond well to the use of custom orthotics, special shoe inserts designed specifically for the patient’s needs to help redistribute weight and provide support.
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