Heel Pain: Resolve this Common Foot Condition

Heel pain stems from a variety of root causes and conditions, but you can find comfort in knowing that Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists will assess your specific situation and provide the pain relief you need. Our podiatrists—led by Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS—are experienced, leading experts in the field of heel care and are ready to help you today.

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Heel Pain: Very Common, Yet Often Misunderstood

What Is Causing My Heel Pain?

Whether you experience pain in your heels first thing in the morning or following physical activity, it is not normal and needs to be addressed. In order to fix the problem, you must first understand what is causing it. There are various conditions that might be behind your pain, but some are more likely explanations than others.

Heel PainCommon causes of heel pain that we treat include:

  • Achilles Tendinitis If you are active and experiencing pain in the back of your heel, Achilles tendinitis might be the culprit. This condition is an overuse injury that is especially prevalent for those who have either just started working out or recently ramped up their levels of intensity or duration.
  • Plantar Fasciitis So you wake in the morning with a sharp pain in the heel? Sounds like you may have a case of plantar fasciitis. This is a common overuse condition that results from an inflamed plantar fascia, which is a tough band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot.
  • Haglund’s Deformity Often referred to as “pump bump,” this ailment stems from an enlargement of the bone on the back of your heel. Haglund’s deformity is commonly experienced by women who frequently wear high heels (like pumps).
  • Physical Trauma – You may sustain bruising or a fracture if your heel is hit directly with substantial force. A bruised heel can be accompanied by inflamed tissue and discomfort. A fracture will likely cause sharp pain and make it difficult for you to walk.
  • Sever’s Disease When your active son or daughter complains of heel pain between the ages of 8 and 13, he or she may have this ailment. The pain comes from irritation in the area around growth plates in the affected foot. Another indication—especially if your child is reluctant to say anything about being in pain—is when your son or daughter stops participating in physical activities he or she normally enjoys.
  • Overpronation Your body follows a natural process known as “pronation,” which is a slight rolling motion, with every step you take. Most often seen in individuals who have low arches or flat feet, overpronation is an excessive variation of this motion, and it affects the body’s ability to efficiently absorb the force that comes with each step. This often leads to heel and arch pain, but can also impact the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome  - Nerves damage easily and can misfire causing aches and pains. Specifically, Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) is pain from abnormal pressure on the tibial nerve, which runs down the lower leg, along the bump on the inside of your ankle, and into the foot.

How Is Heel Pain Treated?

The good news when it comes to painful heels is that many of the conditions that cause them are treated with conservative care. This means that you rarely need surgery to find relief. Of course, specific treatment will vary depending on the issue, but some common options are medication, orthotics, physical therapy and exercises, and a change in footwear.

Can Heel Pain Be Prevented?

As with any foot or ankle issue, we hope that you are able to avoid pain or discomfort in your heel in the first place. Fortunately, many of its causes are preventable. Some key tips to help include:

  • Always wear properly-fitting shoes that are comfortable, provide arch support, and help absorb shock.
  • Avoid overtraining in high-impact activities by cross-training with low-impact exercises like swimming, bicycling, and yoga.
  • Warm-up and stretch before physical activity.
  • Gradually progress the duration, intensity, and frequency of workouts levels, especially when you are first starting.

Remember, heel and arch pain are not normal. If you ever experience pain or discomfort in your feet or ankles, contact Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists to receive the first-class care and treatment our patients have come to expect. We are proud to serve the Westlake and Westgate communities and can be reached at (512) 328-8900. You can also request an appointment with our office via our convenient online form today.

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists