Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs of Heel Pain

The number one cause of heel pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis.  It is often characterized by pain on the bottom of the heel when you take your very first steps in the morning.  But the pain can last all day long, progressing the longer the condition remains untreated.

The Texas Podiatric Medical Association , which represents more than 1,200 foot specialists across the Texas, is educating consumers during April, Foot Health Awareness Month, that foot pain is NOT normal.  And just as you would treat a nagging toothache by going to the dentist or visit a dermatologist for a persistent skin condition, foot pain should be addressed by a doctor of podiatric medicine.

With regard to the most common cause of foot pain, plantar fasciitis can be caused by a number of factors including weight gain, improper footwear, walking barefoot, an increase in exercise and walking on hard surfaces without proper support.

Other common causes of heel pain include tendinitis, stress fractures, neuritis, bursitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and fat pad thinning.  “Determining the cause of pain is not always easy, but treatment is vital,” said President of the TPMA. “Treating and preventing common heel ailments will ultimately keep you healthier and pain-free,” he added.

You’ve Got Options

Once the podiatrist has examined you, there are several options that may be offered to treat the cause of your pain.  These can include physical therapy, custom orthotics (specially-fitted shoe inserts), steroid injections, prescription medication and immobilization.

Depending on the response, more advanced treatment or surgery may be required.  That will be a discussion between you and your doctor to determine what is best for your particular situation and condition.

 Is it Your Shoes?

It is not uncommon for people to wear uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes.  After all, many people buy their footwear in a setting where there are no experts to ensure proper fit, including online or big-box retailers.  So even if you are purchasing expensive athletic shoes, if the fit is not correct or the shoe does not provide adequate support, you may experience heel pain.

Sports and Heel Pain

Jarring starts and quick stops along with sports that are performed on uneven surfaces can lead to heel pain.  Running; walking and hiking; tennis; and basketball can all lead to heel pain or even stress fractures.  If you are a runner, make sure you replace your shoes very 350 – 500 miles.  Custom orthotics can relieve pain for walkers, hikers and tennis players.  Stretching is also recommended before playing any sport or strenuous activity.

Avoiding Pain

Podiatrists suggest the following tips for avoiding heel pain:

  • Don’t walk barefoot
  • Stretch your feet before exercising
  • Wear supportive shoes
  • Ice your heel if you feel pain