Heel Pain Treatment
Nothing slows you down quite like sore, aching, painful heels. Whether you’re a runner prepping for your next race, a parent chasing kids around the house, a farmer or factory worker, or a senior trying to stay active and independent, heel pain interferes with daily living and keeps you from what you love.
If you are having any kind of trouble with heel pain, it’s time for a chat with your podiatrist. Don’t shrug it off and pretend it’s just “part of growing older.” It isn’t! Heel pain is not normal, and our team specializes in helping you get rid of it and go back to leading a fulfilling, active life!
Why Do My Heels Hurt?
The most common cause of heel pain, at least in adults, is called plantar fasciitis. A long ligament called the plantar fascia runs across the entire underside of your foot, and it’s very vulnerable to tearing and inflammation near the point where it attaches to the heel bone. This type of heel pain is usually described as a sharp, stabbing sensation, and it’s often worst during the first few steps after a long break (such as getting up from bed).
However, plantar fasciitis is not the only condition that can cause pain and discomfort in and around the heel. Other potential diagnoses include:
- Achilles tendinitis
- Achilles bursitis
- Bony deformities
- Compressed nerves
- Growth plate injuries (for children and adolescents)
- Stress fractures
- Plantar Fasciosis
An accurate diagnosis is a critical first step toward effective treatment. At Northwood Foot and Ankle Center, we take as much time as needed to determine the root causes of your heel pain, so that we can help you overcome it.
In many cases, heel pain can be remedied and prevented successfully using home-based treatment options. Determining the underlying causes and severity of your condition will help us figure out which ones will be most effective in your case. Lifestyle adjustments are part of many treatment plans and may consist of:
- Resting from intense physical activity for a brief period, which allows your inflamed tissues the time needed to heal.
- Using over-the-counter pain relief and/or ice packs.
- Stretching feet and ankles.
- Avoiding certain shoe styles (such as high heels, flip flops, and flats) while choosing comfortable, supportive footwear for your day-to-day activities.
Other Conservative Care Options
Heel pain that resists these home remedies should be addressed with more direct care. At Northwood, we offer a variety of non-surgical treatments to help you alleviate the pain of this chronic condition.
Orthotics are among the most effective of these options, especially for feet that tend to get tired and sore by the end of the day. These devices are placed inside your shoes and help provide the added cushioning and support you’re not getting from your feet alone. Certain kinds of orthotics can even correct or control abnormal foot motion, such as excess rolling of the feet or ankles, in order to keep your joints in good alignment. One of our doctors can tell you whether a pair of off-the-rack insoles might help you, or if you’d be better served by a pair of custom orthotics fit to your exact specifications.
Other conservative treatments may include:
- Physical therapy and massage
- Splints to wear at night that keep your fascia and tendons elongated
- Taping to support the fascia while it heals
- Cortisone injections
- Prolotherapy injections
In the unlikely event that conservative care choices do not bring about the relief you need, surgery may be recommended. Fortunately, this is rarely necessary, although it does happen. Procedures can vary quite a bit depending on the diagnosis, location of the damage, and the severity of pain. Your surgeon will spend as much time as necessary going over the pros and cons of any recommended procedures so that you can feel comfortable with the choice.