There are many different types of heel pain and different conditions that can cause your heels to hurt. Sometimes the pain is caused by cracks in the skin. Other times, tight ligaments on the bottom of the foot can be to blame. Our expert podiatrists can help you diagnose the problem and treat it appropriately.
Common Heel Pain Culprits
Plantar Warts - Viruses that cause hard nodules and that can be painful on the bottom of your foot. Plantar warts are contagious and are oftentimes transmitted when people walk barefoot on swimming pool decks or in the locker rooms at the gym. Warts can be treated with different types of acid to help kill the virus.
Heel Fissures - These deep cracks are typically caused by dry, scaly skin. We often see heel fissures in the winter, as the temperature gets cold and dry. In serious cases, they can bleed, become infected, and cause considerable pain.
Plantar Fasciitis - One of the most common causes of heel pain, this occurs when the plantar fascia ligament that attaches from the heel to the ball of your foot becomes tightened or irritated. Pain is felt at its insertion point on the heel bone, or calcaneus. This can sometimes result in the formation of a heel spur as well.
Achilles Tendinitis - The tendon going from the calf in the back of the leg and attached to the heel bone can become swollen, frayed, or partially torn. It can be difficult to walk and climb up or go down steps.
Who is at Risk?
Physically active people are often the greatest at risk for experiencing heel pain. Many sports and activities place constant stress on the feet. In addition, athletes are the most likely to frequent locker rooms where bacteria and viruses lurk.
Because excess weight places added pressure on your lower limbs, those who are obese tend to have an increased risk of heel pain as well.
Lastly, if your shoes do not fit properly or don’t offer adequate cushion and support, they can cause you to have foot pain too!
There are various ways to treat warts. Warts are viruses so we start with recommending a multi-vitamin to help with the body's immune system. The quickest way to get rid of a solitary wart is to excise them with the use of local anesthetic and sharp and blunt dissection. Other treatments involve debridement and use of topical acid preparations. This involves periodic visits to debride the wart and skin first, and then apply topical medications. Without professional treatment, home treatment with topical medications will not penetrate to the wart tissue level.
Heel fissures need a diligent routine of smoothing of skin using blunt (never sharp) instruments and constant skin hydration with anti-bacterial or moisturizing creams to help fill in and heal. Professional sanding and debridement, if severe, can be done by one of our podiatrists.
Plantar Fasciitis can be treated in many different ways, including stretching, icing, proper shoe gear, inserts, and custom molded orthotics. Physical therapy, night splints, cortisone injections, and shockwave therapy are also treatment options. Approximately 85% of plantar fasciitis does resolve with conservative treatment, however, there are surgical procedures which may help those who are unable to find relief.
Achilles tendinitis can be helped thru RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy, proper shoe gear, NSAIDS, stretching, strappings, physical therapy, orthotics or proper fitting pre-fabricated arch supports, and heel pads.
Preventing Heels That Hurt
Take steps to stop heel pain before it starts. Never walk barefoot in public areas like pool decks and locker rooms. Keep feet clean and moisturized. Always warm-up prior to activity and don’t do too much too soon. Make stretching part of your daily routine, and schedule regular visits to Podiatry Care Specialists, PC.
No matter what the reason behind your heel pain is, our podiatrists can help you diagnose and treat any of the above conditions and much more! Call our office at (610) 431-0200 to schedule an appointment at our West Chester, Newtown Square or Exton locations. We’re here to help!
Photo Credit: Satit_Srihin via FreeDigitalPhotos.net