San Francisco Podiatrist – Heel Pain
Heel pain is an indicator for a myriad of foot maladies, and is sometimes a signal for medical intervention. The primary cause of such pains is poor bio-mechanics, the way a person walks. An abnormal gait can put undue pressure on the heel, as can impact on hard surfaces, injury, obesity and poor footwear. Heel pain can affect the entire heel or only parts of it and may inhibit a person’s ability to walk comfortably or at all. Heel pain may indicate the formation of heel spurs and/or plantar fasciitis. A heel spur is a growth of bone beneath the normal heel bone. These spurs develop when there is excessive pulling and tension on the soft tissues that connect the heel of the foot to the ball. The inflammation that develops along those tissues is called plantar fasciitis. The stretching or tearing in these ligaments and muscles is painful, and aggravated by ill-fitting shoes. Excessive pronation, the shift of weight in toward the big toe during walking, also causes heel pain. Other conditions causing heel discomfort are rheumatoid arthritis, bone bruising, Achilles tendinitis, bursitis, neuroma and stress fractures.
The first step to preventing heel pain is appropriate shoes that absorb shock and cushion the heel. Proper stretching, rest, nutrition and hydration during and after physical activities are preventative of many injuries. Treatment of heel discomfort often requires an X-ray to find the cause. Medications, exercise and orthotic adaptations can treat fairly minor conditions. These treatments may include physical therapy, padding and/or taping. More advanced conditions like spurs, neuromas and bursitis may require surgical intervention.