Heel pain (often caused by planter fasciitis) is the most common problems our foot doctors treat. Closely related to heel pain is arch pain. People may refer to heel or arch pain from plantar fasciitis as heel spur syndrome when a heel spur is involved.
Other problems can also cause heel and arch pain, such as a heel spur, stress fracture, tendon tear, pinched nerve (or tarsal tunnel syndrome), inflamed ligament, bone cyst, or even a tumor.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a thick ligament found on the bottom of the heel and arch called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia can tear or rupture in severe cases, making the pain in the heel much worse.
As an aside, some patients (and even some doctors) will confuse plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Even in cases where a large heel spur is present, often plantar fasciitis is the cause of heel pain.
Plantar fasciitis develops often in people who have an abnormal foot structure or whose foot does not move as correctly as it should (foot doctors call this abnormal biomechanics). For example, patients with a foot that has too low or too high an arch are more susceptible to plantar fasciitis/heel pain.
The first thing our podiatrists do when a patient comes to see us with heel pain, arch pain and/or plantar fasciitis, is to perform a thorough examination to ensure that the cause of the heel or arch pain is due to plantar fasciitis and nothing else. In some cases, heel pain or arch pain may be the result of several problems simultaneously, such as plantar fasciitis, a heel spur, and a nerve problem (such as tarsal tunnel syndrome).
Our foot doctors often use our in-office x-ray to check the heel and foot bones, and our diagnostic ultrasound machine to “see” the plantar fascia.
Our podiatrists use a variety of treatments to alleviate heel pain in patients from here in Northwest Indiana and elsewhere. Treatments range conservative care to physical therapy to outpatient procedures.
Because abnormal motion in the foot and/or foot structure contributes to heel pain/plantar fasciitis, our podiatrists often solve the problem by making our heel or arch pain patients custom made orthotics. Foot orthotics are special insoles that are made specifically to fit your feet. The orthotics act to nudge your foot to move and function as correctly as your foot is able.
Other measures our foot doctors may use to alleviate heel pain include topical prescription medications that can reduce plantar fasciitis inflammation and the pain. The podiatrist may also prescribe oral anti-inflammatories or a muscle relaxer. In some cases an injection of cortisone or inflammation reducing medicine may be given.
If plantar fasciitis is the sole cause (excuse the pun!) of your heel pain, you can do several things for relief. These measures include wearing sensible supportive shoes, stretches, massage, and if you do not have diabetes, circulation or nerve issues and your doctor says these are safe for you, then you can try using ice or soaking in warm water and Epsom salts.
Before initiating any of these treatment measures, it is important that you see us to make certain that the cause of the heel pain is due to plantar fasciitis, as conservative treatments or “home” remedies could worsen the problem if your heel pain is due to other issues.
With severe heel pain due to plantar fasciitis that persists despite conservative treatment, our foot doctors use various innovative measures to alleviate the problem. These techniques include:
If you have heel pain, please allow one of our foot doctors the opportunity to help you. Feel free to make an appointment online or call us at (219)663-2273.