You never realize how much you rely on your feet until you’re experiencing sharp pain with every step.
As the largest bone in your foot, the heel is often the prime target for injury or inflammation. The problem is, with 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons surrounding each foot and ankle, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of your heel pain, as many regions connect and rely on surrounding structures with each movement.
Here are four common causes of heel pain to you narrow down your prognosis:
Are you experiencing sensitivity towards the base of your heel close to the back of your arch? Maybe it hurts just slipping out of bed in the morning, before you’ve even put any weight on your feet.
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common form of heel discomfort, typically in the form of a stabbing pain around the bottom of your foot near your heel. This inflammation can be caused by strain or damage to one of the most important ligaments in the foot— the plantar fascia. This foot condition is usually related to overuse or injury from exercise, though like many foot-related ailments, could be linked to obesity, age or medical conditions which affect the strength of your tendons. In some cases, being flat-footed, having a high arch or even having an abnormal pattern of walking can be trigger this pain.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Do you have a shooting pain along the in-step of your foot around your arch and heel, or stabbing or burning which extends to the inside of your ankle?
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis is known as tendinitis of the foot. Simply put, it’s inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon, which runs along the inside of the ankle. This inflammation can be caused by irritation of the tendon or tiny tears from activities that require repetitive ankle movements, or from rolling your ankle playing sports. Those who have diabetes, are overweight, hypertensive or have weaken tendons due to old age are at greater risk factor of getting tendonitis.
Do you experience a mild ache in the back of your leg or right above your heel after activity? Maybe the tendon behind your foot is tender or stiff too the next morning.
Achilles Tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue connecting your calf muscles to your heel, is overused and injured. Men are typically more at risk for this injury, but both women and men who run in worn-out shoes or suddenly increase the intensity or duration of their runs, may suffer from this form of heel pain. Those taking certain antibiotics, have medical conditions such as high blood pressure or are elderly are most susceptible to Achilles Tendonitis.
Sprains & Strains
Did you recently twist your foot or roll your ankle and now have sudden heel sensitivity?
Sprains occur when a joint is twisted while bearing weight, while strains are caused when too much force is applied on a specific muscle. You may think a fall or applied force would need to occur to suffer from one of these foot problems, but even those who fail to properly warm up before physical activity can fall victim to these forms of heel pain. Both can occur on an acute level, after a one-time incident, but if left untreated a strain can become chronic and never truly heal for those continuing repetitive activity. Sprains can range from mild to severe, but in extreme cases, can cause tissue damage from a ruptured ligament.
Are you experiencing intense pain after a recent impact?
A fracture can range from a thin crack to a complete break of the bone and is usually accompanied by intense pain right after an injury. If you suffered a direct blow to your heel or surround ankle region— especially if you heard a snap!— or experience immediate swelling that lasts for hours or days after the event, seek medical attention.
The Healing Your Heel Needs
In most instances, there are a few ways to instantly subdue your heel pain:
- If you are experiencing excessive stress on your tendons from physical activity like running, take it easy. Your body might need a few days to recover. Plus, it could help to prevent further irritation and injury.
- If your shoes are rubbing the back of your heel or not providing adequate cushioning or arch support, this could be the culprit. Ditch the ill-fitting or worn-out shoes and get custom fitted footwear.
- Before activity, warm up and stretch your muscles to avoid strain.
- If your pain persists, turn to a podiatrist. In some severe cases of heel injuries, surgery may be required.
Many of these common causes of heel pain are hard to diagnose without a professional opinion.
Before assuming you know the cause, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced foot and ankle doctors. We’ll give you the verdict and get you on a speedy road to recovery.
Give us a call at 239.936.5400 to make an appointment today.
Categorized in: Blog