What causes heel pain?

Heel pain is an extremely common complaint and there are several common causes. Before any treatment can commence, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of  is plantar fasciitis, which results in pain from walking or prolonged standing.

heel pain

What is plantar fasciitis and how is it caused?

Plantar fasciitis is heel pain as a result of irritation and inflammation of the connective tissue that reaches from the heel to the toes, supporting the muscles and arch of the foot. When this tight band of tissue (plantar fascia) is overly stretched, small tears can occur in the surface causing inflammation and pain.

Plantar fasciitis, sometimes known as jogger’s heel, is mostly caused by an injury to the plantar fascia from overuse due to running, increase in exercise routines, overweight and age-related issues.

Research has shown that the key words are overuse and wear-and-tear.

 Is there any treatment that will help to relieve this condition?

Successful treatment for heel pain depends on the cause of the problem. Before you embark on any treatment program, seek medical advice for a diagnosis of your symptoms and the severity of your condition.

Not all treatments are suitable for every circumstance, but listed below are some treatments which may be helpful in your situation, especially if diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.

  • Rest. Take a few days off jogging or exercising. It might help reduce the pain and allow the inflammation to begin to cool down.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication helps to reduce heel pain and decrease levels of inflammation.  Over-the-counter meds are efficient, but prescription options are also available from a doctor.
  • Specially made shoes or shoe inserts which provide arch support are useful to reduce pain and further injury.
  • Frequent ice pack treatment.

Are there any recommended exercises to help reduce plantar fasciitis pain?

New studies have shown that certain exercises offer remarkable benefits. They mainly involve exercising the muscles of your foot by gently stretching them as follows:

  • Towel stretch. Sit on a hard surface with your injured leg stretched out in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of your foot and pull the towel toward you, curling your toes upward but keeping the knee straight. Hold for 20 seconds then relax. Repeat 3 times and do several times a day.
  • Plantar fascia stretch. Stand with the ball of your injured foot on a stair. Reach for the bottom stair with the heel until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold position for 30 seconds then relax. Repeat 3 times and do several times per day.
  • Curl your toes upward while in a seated position until the arch of your foot feels tight. Hold for 30 seconds, relax, repeat 3 times, and do several times per day.

Opt for whichever exercise is most suitable for you.

 Will surgery be necessary?

Surgery is usually not needed for plantar fasciitis as most people are able to relieve the heel pain without surgery.

Your doctor could consider surgery if all avenues of non-surgical treatment have not helped and the pain is having a serious negative impact by restricting your daily activities and mobility.

© 2023 Dr. Robert Afra – San Diego Orthopedic Surgery Shoulder – Knee – Elbow