A common source of heel pain is inflammation caused gradually by overuse - walking, running or standing for long periods of time. Heel pain can also be more immediate, caused by stepping wrong on an uneven surface or wearing the wrong shoe for a particular activity.
The heel bone, or calcaneus, has a tough band of tissue attached to it called the plantar fascia. This tissue stabilizes the foot while standing, walking or running. Plantar fasciitis is the result of inflammation in the plantar fascia where it connects to the heel bone.
Pain associated with plantar fasciitis is typically gradual, starting off as mild and getting worse with time. The pain is most often felt after rather than during exercise or other activity. Plantar fasciitis is more common in women, people who are overweight and those with jobs requiring extensive walking or standing.
People with plantar fasciitis have a tendency to adjust their posture and the way they walk, in order to avoid pain in their heel. This can in turn lead to hip, knee, ankle and foot problems in addition to the heel pain.
An orthopedic physician's treatment plan for plantar fasciitis is usually a conservative one and includes rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, and stretching exercises. Most patients with planter fasciitis respond to this simple treatment. In many cases, the pain caused by plantar fasciitis may even resolve spontaneously.
If the heel pain is persistent steroidal injections, a splint or walking cast may be prescribed. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to release the plantar fascia. Although the pain of plantar fasciitis can be debilitating at times, no real damage is being caused to the foot.
Orthopedics is the area of medicine specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of bone, joint, tissue and nerve disorders, including those in the foot and ankle. Because of this, an orthopedic physician can best diagnose and treat any foot and ankle disorders.
If you are living with heel pain, call the Foot & Ankle Center at Valley Orthopedic Associates at 425-656-5060.
For more information about plantar fasciitis, including recommended stretching exercises, click here.
- Physicians Videos
- Patient Resources