Heel Pain

Do you dread the first step out of bed every morning?

Are aching heels keeping you from the things you love to do—whether that’s golfing, hiking, running, hunting, playing sports, or just spending time with the family?

You may have shrugged off the pain in the past—“This is just part of getting older, right?”

Wrong. Feet shouldn’t hurt. Heel pain is not normal. And the professionals at Kalamazoo Podiatry have the tools and training you need to stop hurting, start feeling better, and get back to your favorite activities.

What Causes Heel Pain?

Heel pain is not really a “condition” to be diagnosed. It is a symptom, and it can be associated with several different possible conditions—each of which can have their own set of underlying causes.

Sound confusing? Just think of it this way: In order to help you find the best possible treatment for your heel pain, we need to identify two things: what kind of tissue has been injured, and why.

In terms of the clinical diagnoses, some of the most common heel pain conditions include:

  • Plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia, a tough band of connective tissue on the bottom of your foot, has become stretched or torn near the underside of the heel. Pain tends to be worst right after getting up, either from bed or a long sit.
  • Achilles tendinitis. The Achilles tendon at the back of the heel is strained and suffering from either inflammation, tearing, or degeneration of the tendon fibers.
  • Bursitis. A fluid-filled bursa sac near the back of your heel becomes inflamed. (Bursae are responsible for providing cushioning and lubrication for various joints throughout your body.)
  • Stress fractures. Due to repetitive impact stresses, bones begin to develop hairline cracks that may deepen or expand without rest.
  • Nerve irritation. Nerves responsible for processing sensory information in the feet may become injured, pinched, or otherwise irritated due to injury, inflammation, or compression. Heel pain is one possible symptom.
  • Heel spurs. Extended cases of plantar fasciitis may cause a spur of hard calcium to form on the heel bone. These can be painful on their own (apart from plantar fasciitis) if the spur is pressing on sensitive tissues.

In addition to the diagnosis, we’ll want to establish the root, underlying causes. These, of course, vary from condition to condition (and even between two instances of the same condition), but often include things like:

  • Wearing poor quality shoes, or shoes that are not appropriate for your chosen activity.
  • Overtraining without taking adequate rest, especially if you have a lot of high-impact sports or hobbies that you enjoy (running and jumping sports, for example).
  • Structural defects in your feet, such as having particularly flat feet or high arches.
  • Biomechanical issues with your gait pattern while walking or running.
  • Occupations that require a lot of standing or walking—teachers, service workers, factory and warehouse workers, health care professionals, etc.
  • Obesity

What Can I Do About It?

We believe in personal treatment. Every case is unique, and what works for one person’s condition or lifestyle won’t necessary be the best choice for someone else. That’s why we like to give our patients options and explain each thoroughly, so that you can feel empowered to choose the treatment path that’s right for you.

Fortunately, most cases of heel pain can be fully treated conservatively. Although surgery is sometimes necessary, these cases are fairly rare. That’s especially true now that we’re the first (and so far only) podiatry office in Kalamazoo offering MLS laser therapy to our patients.

This cutting-edge system uses non-invasive laser energy to rapidly reduce pain and stimulate accelerating healing in damaged tissues. This is a great alternative to surgery for severe heel pain, and also a great option for athletes and active, busy individuals who simply need to return to full speed as quickly as possible.

Other treatment options that may be considered, based on your condition and lifestyle, include:

  • RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
  • Shoe inserts—we carry a selection of high quality prefabricated insoles and heel lifts, and also fit and prescribe custom orthotics for those who need them.
  • Night splints to keep your plantar fascia and calves elongated while you sleep.
  • Compression sleeves, taping, and/or braces for arch and heel support.
  • Physical therapy, stretches, and exercise.
  • Cortisone injections.

What Can I Do About It?

 

We believe in personal treatment. Every case is unique, and what works for one person’s condition or lifestyle won’t necessary be the best choice for someone else. That’s why we like to give our patients options and explain each thoroughly, so that you can feel empowered to choose the treatment path that’s right for you.

Fortunately, most cases of heel pain can be fully treated conservatively. Although surgery is sometimes necessary, these cases are fairly rare. That’s especially true now that we’re the first (and so far only) podiatry office in Kalamazoo offering MLS laser therapy to our patients.

This cutting-edge system uses non-invasive laser energy to rapidly reduce pain and stimulate accelerating healing in damaged tissues. This is a great alternative to surgery for severe heel pain, and also a great option for athletes and active, busy individuals who simply need to return to full speed as quickly as possible.

Other treatment options that may be considered, based on your condition and lifestyle, include:

  • RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
  • Shoe inserts—we carry a selection of high quality prefabricated insoles and heel lifts, and also fit and prescribe custom orthotics for those who need them.
  • Night splints to keep your plantar fascia and calves elongated while you sleep.
  • Compression sleeves, taping, and/or braces for arch and heel support.
  • Physical therapy, stretches, and exercise.
  • Cortisone injections.

Although Achilles tendinitis is the most common form of foot and ankle tendinitis, it is certainly not the only one. Other conditions we see and treat often include:

  • Posterior tibial tendonitis (inner ankle)—often associated with flat feet.
  • Peroneal tendonitis (outer ankle)—sometimes, although not always, associated with high arches.
  • Extensor tendinitis (top of foot)

Tendinitis is also common in the knees, shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

Get Help!

So, as you can see, we have a lot of effective treatment options to help you get better—and we’ll always take as much time as necessary to explain your options and work alongside you to personalize the treatment plan that’s right for you.

Repeat it with us: heel pain is not normal! If painful heels won’t go away no matter what you do, give us a call so we can help take away your pain. You can reach our Kalamazoo office at (269) 373-1019.

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