Heel Pain

Although heel pain is quite common, it’s not something that should be ignored. In fact, conditions that cause heel pain often worsen if you don’t address them in their early stages. That means, if left untreated, discomfort felt while walking will eventually get to the point of inhibiting favorite activities, much less simply going for a stroll. Don’t let that happen to you! If your heels are hurting, get the treatment you need before the situation gets worse — the first step is unveiling the cause.

What causes heel pain?

Painful heels can result from a number of issues. Excessive weight can flatten the fat pad on the bottom of your heel and place too much pressure upon it. Overuse and repetitive stress, due to running long distances, for instance, can cause heel pain, too. Improper footwear that doesn’t provide enough cushion in the heel and poor training techniques that make you prone to injury can both lead to problems with your heels, as well. Still, certain conditions can also be behind your troubles.

What are the most common forms of heel pain?

Achilles Tendinitis

Too much stress on your Achilles can cause inflammation and soreness that aggravates your heel. Achilles tendinitis most commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs and in middle-aged athletes.

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Plantar Fasciitis

The most common cause of heel pain, this occurs when the band of tissues that spans your arch becomes injured and inflamed, pulling on your heel bone. The more it pulls, the more likely heel spurs will form and add to the problem.

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Haglund's Deformity

Also known as "Pump Bump", this deformity is caused when pressure against the back of your heel causes bursitis to set in and a swollen bump to form. This is often associated with high-heeled pumps, hiking boots, or other footwear with rigid backs.

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Sever's Disease

While plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in adults, Sever’s Disease is most commonly found in teens. Because the Achilles tendon reaches maturity at a faster rate than the heel bone, it can often pull tightly on the heel bone until it catches up.

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Heel Fissures

Heel fissures are deep cracks in the heels caused by calluses that form. These dry patches can split under pressure, and can often lead to bleeding and infection. Especially dangerous for those with diabetes, it is imperative that heel fissures are addressed immediately.

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Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are typified by calcium deposits in the heel that can cause bony protrusions on the underside of the heel. In some cases, a heel spur can extend by nearly half an inch. Although the heel spur itself is often painless, they can cause severe heel discomfort.

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Treatment and Prevention

Depending on the cause of your pain, treatment can range from a simple switch in shoes to, in rare cases, a surgical procedure. Most times, however, conservative measures are all it takes to find relief. Besides a pair of well-cushioned and supportive shoes, custom orthotics can help distribute weight evenly, take pressure off your heel, and correct any structural or biomechanical issues accentuating your problem. Ice and stretching exercises can help as well, as can innovative, regenerative medicine like PRP injections and Amniofix, both of which stimulate the healing process.

Of course, preventing pain in the first place is the most ideal option! Make sure your shoes fit and are appropriate for your activity. Wear your orthotics and always adequately warm-up before working out. Gradually build upon your fitness routine, and cross-train to give yourself a break from repetitive stress. Maintain a healthy weight, and give your body some downtime to allow it to rest! When in doubt, consult with your foot specialist and discuss alternative methods of alleviating chronic heel pain.

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