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Three Common Causes of Heel Pain

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Three Common Causes of Heel Pain: Gotham Footcare: Podiatrists

Your feet are an essential foundation to physically support you as they carry your weight and provide balance and well-being to all your other body parts. When you experience heel pain, it can cause difficulty with routine tasks, disrupt your daily life, and negatively affect your overall health. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and bursitis are three common conditions that impact your feet.

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a thick, bowstring like tissue in your foot connecting your heel to the front of the foot. It acts as a shock absorber and makes up the arch of your foot. Wear and tear from walking, running, and jumping places stress on the plantar fascia that can cause stiffness, micro tears, and inflammation known as plantar fasciitis. When you experience this condition, you may experience mild pain that could feel sharp and shooting or dull and achy on the bottom of your heel. It’s usually more noticeable in the morning or when you resume activity after a period of rest.

How is plantar fasciitis treated?

When plantar fasciitis symptoms are mild, home remedies like rest, ice, foot braces, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate the discomfort. If the pain becomes significant and hinders your daily activities, seeking medical care from an experienced physician could be warranted. Your doctor may use ultrasound imaging to help determine the severity of the condition. Doctors can treat more severe cases with steroid injections, physical therapy, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy. However, minimally invasive surgical intervention can be considered when non-invasive methods do not improve the pain, and your symptoms last longer than 6 to 12 months. It is essential to discuss all your options with your doctor to ensure the best treatment for your individual needs.

Achilles Tendonitis

What causes inflammation of the Achilles tendon?

The Achilles tendon is the strong, flexible cord-like tissue that attaches your heel to the muscles in the back of your leg. When functioning properly, you can move around and flex your feet without thinking about it. However, when you are very active on your feet, the tendon can be overused and become inflamed, instigating pain and swelling. Other frequent symptoms are stiffness in the morning, weakness, warmth in the heel or along the tendon, and difficulty standing on the toes or flexing your feet. It is common for people who have an active lifestyle, including sports, running, and walking for long periods, to experience this condition.

How is Achilles tendon inflammation treated?

Like plantar fasciitis, mild cases of Achilles inflammation can be treated with similar home remedies. However, if the pain is ignored and not treated properly, it can lead to chronic pain, a tendon tear, or a rupture. When the symptoms are minimal, it is important to rest your feet and use ice and compression to help reduce any swelling. You can also wear proper footwear to support your heel and Achilles tendon and implement stretching exercises to help alleviate the pain. If your pain is significant or lasts for an extended period, a physical exam by a knowledgeable physician and diagnostic imaging will need to be performed to determine if surgical repair is the best treatment option.


What is bursitis?

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that can form to protect the body from pressure and stress being placed on bones, muscles, and tendons. Sometimes a bursa may form on the back of your heel to protect your achilles tendon from the rubbing and irritation of shoes. Heel bursitis is a condition that occurs when these small sacs between your bones and Achilles tendon become overstressed or injured, which can cause pain and noticeable swelling, diminishing your mobility. The causes of heel bursitis can include:

  • Increased intense physical activity.
  • Incorrect or poorly fitting footwear.
  • Heel spurs.
  • Other health conditions such as arthritis or infection.

The first symptoms are usually pain in the back of your heel with some redness and swelling. More significant symptoms can include a poor range of motion and warm or tender skin.

How is bursitis treated?

Your doctor will perform a comprehensive exam, discuss your symptoms, and could order imaging to help ensure there are no other underlying concerns. Like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon inflammation problems, mild to moderate cases of heel bursitis can be treated with conservative measures like rest, ice and compression therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, or antibiotics, if appropriate. In addition, moderate cases can be treated with steroid injections performed in your doctor’s office. In a rare, extreme case, surgical intervention can alleviate symptoms when they have occurred for more than 6 to 12 months.

Take the Next Steps to Healthy Feet

Good foot health is essential for the rest of your body to function at its best. Pain is the body’s alert system that something needs attention. When you experience heel pain, it can decrease your mobility and affect your quality of life. It is important to address symptoms of significant concerns and seek medical diagnosis and treatment to ensure your feet stay healthy to continue to support you.

At Gotham Footcare in NYC, we strive at recognizing your individual needs and desired outcomes while formulating an effective and personalized treatment plan with the highest quality care available.

What sets Gotham Footcare apart from other podiatry offices is our dedication to providing you with the education you need to make well-informed decisions regarding your care. Regardless of what your foot and ankle trouble may be, at Gotham Footcare our team will work tirelessly to help you feel better. At Gotham Footcare, we help you put your best foot forward.