Among the various categories of foot and ankle conditions we treat at our Brooklyn and Spring Valley, NY podiatry offices, those that result in heel pain tend to be more common. Treatment for heel pain is often done successfully without the need for surgery, and—even better—there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting it in the first place.
Some common causes of heel pain include:
Plantar Fasciitis – This condition is caused by inflammation of the tough band of fibrous tissue running along the bottom of your foot. The pain is strongest in the morning, particularly with the first steps of the day. As you walk around more, it will subside, but this doesn’t mean the problem is resolved.
Heel Bursitis – Your body, including the feet, have bursae—tiny sacs of fluid that act as cushioning. When one in the heel becomes inflamed, it causes pain.
Sever’s Disease/Calcaneal Apophysitis– Adolescent patients suffering from heel pain frequently have this condition, also known as Sever’s disease, which is rooted in the growth plate located in the back of the heel.
Achilles Tendinitis – Your Achilles tendon is your body’s largest, strongest tendon, but that doesn’t mean it is immune from injury. When overuse or sudden increases in activity levels stress out this connective tissue, it becomes a painful condition.
Stress Fractures – These are tiny, hairline cracks that develop in bone tissue. Unlike the broken bones that people often think about, they are not typically caused by a single incident. Instead, stress fractures are the result of cumulative forces placed upon the bone.
Heel Spur – Frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, this condition develops when the pull of the fascia causes a bony protrusion, often on the underside of the calcaneus (heel bone). A heel spur is not painful in and of itself, but it can create issues in the surrounding soft tissues.
Treatment for Heel Pain
Treating a painful heel depends, of course, on the specific injury a patient has experienced. Even so, we are happy to let you know that a majority of patients have their pain relieved through the use of conservative, non-surgical methods, including:
- Rest – Often, taking time away from high-impact activities will give your body the opportunity to begin its natural healing processes.
- Ice – Icing an injury not only helps relieve pain, but can also reduce inflammation in the area.
- Medication – Always consult with our office first for type and dosage recommendations, but over-the-counter medication can be effective for providing relief.
- Stretches – When the root cause behind the pain is soft tissue, stretches may prove to be beneficial.
It is virtually impossible to completely eliminate the risk for any injury, but preventative measures can be used to significantly reduce the odds of one happening to you. A smart place to start is wearing the proper shoes for any activity in which you participate. In addition to wearing the right type of footwear, they should also fit you well. Shoes should be neither excessively tight nor too loose. When you are picking out a new pair, be sure that your heel is cradled, there is about a thumb’s width between the longest toe and the front, and that the shoes offer ample cushioning and proper arch support.
Besides your choice in footwear, always start at low levels of intensity and duration for new physical activities and gradually progress to new levels over time. Heel pain often results from overuse injuries when individuals try to do too much, too soon.
Schedule some rest for your heels into your workout regimen by using cross-training. Incorporating low-impact activities (bicycling, walking, swimming, and yoga) will not only provide enhanced benefits to your overall health, but also decrease the total amount of impact your heels endure.
First Class Foot and Ankle Care in Spring Valley and Midwood, Brooklyn
No matter what is behind your heel pain, we are ready to treat it for you. Our offices employ the best in state-of-the-art technology and an expertise that can only come with vast experience. Contact Dr. Stuart Birnbaum today at (718) 434-0600 or use our online form to schedule your appointment at either our Spring Valley or Midwood Brooklyn offices.