Ouch, My Heel Hurts!

One of the most painful yet rewarding conditions I see and treat in podiatric medicine is heel pain. Many people can identify with this condition by a sharp pain experienced when a first step is taken after being sedentary for a long period of time, or even during exercise. The person may notice the pain subsides after they continue to walk, but soon returns after time passes.

The plantar fascia a thick, shiny tendon that attaches from the heel bone (calcaneus) and fans out to each digit of the foot. This tendon can become inflamed, thus causing the pain in the bottom of the heel. Overtime, if left untreated, the fascia can become thickened and chronically inflamed.

Surgery is often not necessary and this condition can be treated with a variety of treatments: anti-inflammatory medications (topical/orals), icing, stretching, orthotics, steroid injection and my favorite–physical therapy. I like to address the contribution of biomechanical issues to the condition such as tight hip flexors, weak or tight calf muscles, as well as shoe gear.

Generally speaking plantar fasciitis has an excellent prognosis and patients are able to resume normal activity. Recurrence is possible, but understanding triggers and building a regimen around prevention is always wise.