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Podiatry

Heel Pain

Heel pain has many possible causes. Learning about the symptoms can help you take care of your heels and prevent problems.

Plantar fasciitis

This condition occurs when the plantar fascia — a band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot — is overloaded or overstretched, causing small tears.

The condition causes intense heel pain along the bottom of the foot during the first few steps taken in the morning. This pain often goes away once you start to walk around, but it may last all day.

Self-care includes taking a break from sports, doing stretching exercises, massaging the sole of the foot with ice for 6 to 8 weeks, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen as needed for pain, and wearing shoes with good support. It’s also important to avoid going without shoes.

Heel spur

This condition occurs when an abnormal growth of bone occurs where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. It is caused by long-term strain on the plantar fascia and the muscles of the foot, especially in people who are overweight or who jog. Wearing worn-out shoes can aggravate the problem.

Treatment includes wearing supportive, well-fitting shoes and adding shoe supports, such as a heel raise or a donut-shaped heel cushion.

Bursitis

This condition is caused by a small, irritated sac of fluid, nerves, or soft tissue. This may lead to pain, swelling, and warmth around the heel.

This condition can be caused by wearing shoes with poorly cushioned heels.

You may need to take medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, apply ice or heat to relieve symptoms, place thick heel pads in shoes to raise your heels, and wear backless shoes or shoes with a V groove cut out of the back to relieve pressure on the heels.

Achilles tendonitis

This condition can be triggered by overuse of the foot, especially by excessive jumping and wearing poorly fitting shoes.

The condition causes pain at the back of the heel that typically becomes worse with exercise, and is often accompanied by soreness, stiffness, and mild swelling.

Treatment can include orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, stretches, and physical therapy.

Excessive pronation

This condition is caused by excessive inward motion of the foot while walking. Good arch support is important if you have this condition.


Prevention

You can help prevent heel pain by maintaining a healthy weight, warming up before participating in sports, and wearing shoes that support the arch of the foot and cushion the heel.

Make an appointment to see your health care provider if you have significant heel pain that does not improve within a few days, or if you have been self-treating moderate heel pain for several weeks with no improvement.

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