Heel Pain Syndrome
Answers to commonly asked questions
- What is Heel Pain Syndrome?
It includes pain at the bottom of the heel which is often a combination of plantar fascitis (inflammation of the thick band of tissue that covers the muscles of your foot), neuritis (inflammation of the nerve branches to the heel), and sometimes a painful bone spur.
- What causes Heel Pain Syndrome?
It is most often caused by abnormal biomechanics (the way we walk or run). It may also be caused by trauma (a bad step, a fall, or overuse). Wearing flimsy dress shoes, worn out shoes and weight gain are also aggravating factors.
- Does the bone spur cause the pain?
We have learned with research that over 30% of the population have heel spurs and they do not have foot pain. Most heel spurs do not contribute to the heel pain unless they are very large or related to a specific type of arthritis (ie. Gout, Rheumatoid or Psoriatic arthritis). The primary cause of pain is the plantar fascia which pulls on the heel bone when we walk. This often results in micro-tears of this band of tissue which needs a chance to heal.
- What are my treatment options?
It typically takes as long to get rid of heel pain as it took to get it divided by 2. Therefore, if you have had heel pain for one year it will probably take 6 months to completely alleviate the pain. The good news is that more than 80% of patients get better with simple treatments. In our experience we believe we get the best results when treating patients in a step wise approach. We start with the simplest things first and sometimes work our way toward more complicated treatments. It is important to understand that no one type of treatment will make you better, it takes a combination of different treatments to resolve the pain.
- Can I exercise while being treated for this problem?
Most forms of exercise will aggravate your pain. If you are limping or are limited in your daily or work activities than you need to alleviate the pain first before returning to exercise. If your pain is mild than you can perform exercises which do not put the full weight of your body on the foot such as bicycling or swimming.
Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)
Plantar fasciitis (or heel pain) is commonly traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot. Our practice can evaluate arch pain, and may prescribe customized shoe inserts called orthoses to help alleviate the pain.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the connective tissue that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. Also called "heel spur syndrome," the condition can usually be successfully treated with conservative measures such as use of anti-inflammatory medications and ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy.