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What Causes Heel Pain or Heel Spurs?

Pain on the bottom of the heel is the most common form of heel pain. The pain is often worse when first placing weight on the foot. The pain is also evident first thing in the morning, or standing up. Sometimes the pain is sharp and searing or feels like a tear at the bottom of the heel. These feelings can be followed by a throbbing pain after getting off your feet, soreness up the back of your leg, or pain radiating into your foot’s arch.

A thick ligament, called the planar fascia attaches the bottom of the heel to the base of the toes. The plantar fascia acts similarly to a shock absorber for your foot. When you take a step, your foot flattens, which stretches the plantar fascia slightly. If something causes your plantar fascia to flatten excessively, you may develop small tears where the ligament attaches to the heel bone. These tears can produce a spur to form on the bottom of the heel. However, the pain you experience is not from the spur. The pain is due to the ligament tearing from the heel bone. Many people have heel spurs without having any symptoms or pain.  When a person is at rest, the plantar fascia tries to mend, and the first few steps cause the ligament to re-tear. This is why the heel pain tends to be worse after the first few steps in the morning or after you have been sitting for a period of time. Tightness in your calf muscles can limit the movement of the ankle joint. This can lead to the excessive flattening of the plantar fascia and contribute to heel pain.

How Does a Podiatrist Diagnose Heel Pain?
A physical exam and thorough history is the best way to diagnose heel pain and heel spurs. Weight bearing x-rays can help determine if a heel spur is present and rule out the possibilities of stress fractures, bone tumors, or soft tissue damage from connective tissue disorders.

How Do Podiatrists Treat Heel Pain?
Your Dallas foot doctor will likely instruct you to perform aggressive calf muscle stretching. Additional treatments may include taking oral anti-inflammatory medications or using over-the-counter arch supports or heel cushions. These steps may be followed with a night splint, cortisone injections, and orthopedic taping to support your arch. If the problem continues to persist, functional orthodic devices may be prescribed. A functional orthotic is customized to your foot and generally fits in a normal shoe. Orthotics address the cause of the heel pain.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, request an appointment with us.

Metroplex Foot and Ankle is a progressive group of physicians and surgeons who are committed to helping our patients to achieve their full wellness potential. Contact our Dallas Podiatrist, Garland Podiatrist, or Richardson Podiatrist offices to schedule an appointment today.

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