Heel pain is one of the most common conditions treated in the podiatry office. Heel pain is something that we all will experience at some point in our busy life styles. There are two very important structures that insert onto the heel bone which are usually the source of heel pain – the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon. Approximately 90% of heel pain is related to the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a ligament that attaches to the bottom of the heel bone and functions to help support the arch of the foot. A very common condition called plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, typically at its insertion point on the bottom of the heel bone. Patient’s will typically notice this pain when they get out of bed in the morning and take those first few steps or after any period of rest. Pain will also be appreciable after long periods of standing or walking. The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is a sudden change in activity. For example, a long shopping trip, new shoes, hiking after not hiking for a while, or in Florida, putting hurricane shutters up all weekend.
The second most common condition leading to heel pain is Achilles tendonitis. Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon and in the Achilles tendon, is usually near its insertion into the back of the heel bone. The most common cause of Achilles tendonitis can be due to over use, a heel spur, or improper shoes. This condition can be accurately diagnosed and differentiated from other causes of heel pain by your podiatrist.
The question becomes “how can a podiatrist help me with my heel pain”? Podiatrists are very well trained in all conditions of the foot and ankle and have all of the necessary tools to help the patient to a speedy recovery and make an accurate diagnosis. An early diagnosis and treatment leads to a much faster heeling time. 94% of plantar fasciitis is resolved with conservative treatment when treated early and similar results are for Achilles tendonitis.
Ryan Cantwell, DPM
Associate, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons