By Anna Bird
Your feet are important and when you experience pain or discomfort that limits your ability to use your feet, daily life can become difficult. In fact, your overall quality of life may be lowered.
While something wrong with even your small toe, or a blister on the heel can negatively impact your proper mobility, it isn't any wonder the great extent something like heel pain can do.
If you have pain or discomfort in your heel, there are many causes. If the pain is chronic and severe enough to greatly impact the daily use of your foot, it is highly recommended that you see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
For other heel pain ailments, you may be able to get relief and treatment in a variety of ways from stretches to orthotics.
Not every heel pain ailment can be effectively treated in the same manner. It is important, then, to know what the cause of your heel ailment is.
Below are common heel ailments that you may be suffering from:
This common heel ailment occurs when you step on a hard or sharp object such as a stone or pebble. A bruise on the fat pad of the heel can result, with some, temporary minor pain and discoloration. The pain typically goes away with rest.
Plantar Fasciitis (Subcalcaneal Pain)
With plantar fasciitis, the tissue band (fascia) that connects the heel bone to the toes becomes inflamed and irritated. The pain is located under the heel and is worse with the first few steps in the morning. Heel pads, medication and certain exercises can help reduce the severity of pain and inflammation flare-ups.
Heel spurs often form as a result of chronic plantar fasciitis. They are calcium deposits formed on the fascia tissue. There may not be pain associated with heel spur.
Pain Behind the Heel
Pain behind the heel can have multiple causes, with the most common being a tear or inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The heel pain tends to build over time and the skin behind the heel can become thick, red and swollen.
Achilles tendonitis is a common sports injury caused by the overuse of the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Sharp, debilitating pain from the back of the heel may result.
Heel Bone Fracture
It takes a lot of force and pressure to fracture your heel bone. Falls from ladders, jumps from high heights and victims of car accidents are common causes of heel bone fracture. Heel fractures are painful and severe, requiring prompt treatment, which is usually heel reconstruction surgery.
Heel bone fractures can lead to future heel issues including chronic pain, swelling, loss of motion in the foot and arthritis.
Heels with severely cracked skin and open sores can make walking difficult, especially with the rubbing of shoes. Cracked skin can be treated by avoiding open-backed shoes, weight loss, and moisturizing lotion. While cracked heels can be simply dry skin, it can also be a symptom of diabetes and the loss of foot nerve function.
Those with Haglund's Deformity develop a bony enlargement on the back of the heel that causes painful irritation and inflammation of the bursa (the fluid-filled sac that lies between the Achilles tendon and heel bone. The bony enlargement also rubs against the back of shoes, causing blisters.
Medial and Lateral Plantar Nerve Entrapment
Those who have constant pain regardless of whether they're standing or sitting and have pain that's made worse with moving the ankle, wearing certain shoes or physical activities such as running may have medial or lateral plantar nerve entrapment. With this nerve entrapment, the nerves between the bones, ligaments and other connective tissues of the foot are pinched, or compressed, causing near constant pain.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
With tarsal tunnel syndrome, there is a tingling or a numbness that originates at the heel and moves to the toes before ending up by the ankles. Orthotics, better shoes, ankle braces, physical therapy and surgery are common treatments for tarsal tunnel syndrome. Heel pain can be debilitating and greatly affect your mobility and quality of life. There can also be numerous causes behind your heel pain. It is important to make an appointment with your podiatrist to figure out what is specifically causing your heel pain and to learn about the best, appropriate treatment.