No matter your age, heel pain can really get in the way of living. Whether you’re an active teen participating in play and sports, currently in the workforce, or an older adult trying to maintain your mobility and independence, heel pain can hold you back.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Heel pain is common and can be caused by a wide variety of different conditions, but it isn’t normal and can be treated successfully. The sooner you get help, the faster you get back to doing what you really love.
What Conditions Can Cause Heel Pain?
The following conditions are just some of the many that can cause heel pain:
- Plantar fasciitis. This is inflammation, thickening, or tearing in the plantar fascia, a band of tissue running along the bottom of your foot. Pain tends to be worst in the early morning, making simply getting out of bed a very difficult experience. This condition can also be associated with a heel spur, a bony prominence that begins building at the bottom of the heel bone.
- Achilles tendinitis. Repetitive stress and pressure can lead to strain and damage in the fibers of the tendon. Here, pain tends to be located just above the heel along the back of the leg, where the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone.
- Achilles tendon bursitis. A sac of fluid, called a bursae, that provides lubrication and cushioning for the ankle joint may become swollen and painful.
- Haglund’s deformity. Also known as “pump bump,” this outgrowth of bone at the back of the heel may result from wearing tight, hard-backed shoes.
- Sever’s disease. This is the most frequent cause of heel pain in early adolescents, particularly those who are active. It is an overuse or stress injury to the growth plate in the heel. This heel growth plate becomes painful when it gets pulled on by the attached muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
How is Heel Pain Treated?
Our office offers several different options for treating heel pain. It’s important to note that every condition, every foot, and every person is different, so we’ll always take as much time as necessary to talk with you about your options and develop an effective treatment plan that makes sense for you personally.
Many milder cases of heel pain can be resolved entirely through conservative care methods. This includes getting some rest and avoiding strenuous physical activity, going through daily stretches and exercise, and using ice, massage, or OTC painkillers if necessary to temporarily ease symptoms. We also offer Aquaroll technology, which uses waves of refined glass beads to sooth aching feet and boost circulation to relieve stress and pain.
For heel pain that’s a little more stubborn, we offer other treatment options. Two of the most significant are orthotics and laser therapy.
Whether the condition itself is plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, or something else, most cases of heel pain emerge from a biomechanical issue with the shape or structure of your feet—in short, certain joints or tendons are forced to bear more weight and pressure than they should. Orthotic devices, which are inserted into your shoes to provide additional cushioning and support, are one of the most effective ways to mitigate that pain.
Our office provides both custom orthotics and what we call “customized” orthotics, and both provide significant advantages over generic insoles you can buy at the store. The full custom orthotics are specially made based on a biofoam mold of your feet in the proper position, so they offer the best possible fit and performance. By contrast, a customized orthotic is a prefabricated insert that we reshape in our office using heat in order to better match the contours of your feet.
Therapeutic Laser Therapy
Over the last several years, laser therapy has emerged as a powerful treatment tool for quickly relieving pain throughout the body, including the heels. The technology uses a safe, non-invasive beam of light tuned to a specific wavelength (980nm) shown to provide significant therapeutic benefits. The laser energizes your body’s own cells, stimulating them to repair tissue damage and fight pain and inflammation at an accelerated rate.
The procedure is quick, painless, FDA-approved, drug-free, and has no downtime or known side effects. It allows many to avoid painful shots in the heels and other parts of the feet. In addition to heel pain, we also use it for other painful inflammatory conditions and injuries, such as sprains and strains.
Take the First Step Toward Relieving Your Heel Pain
There’s no one-size-fits all approach to heel pain—the best treatment method for you must consider all the factors that make you unique, and will be a mutual decision between you and your physician. Dr. Joel Foster is a podiatrist who always take the time to listen to his patients, ensures they have all the information they need about their condition and care, and works alongside them to provide the best possible treatment for their lifestyle. If your heels are hurting, let our team help you overcome it. To schedule an appointment with us in Lee’s Summit, MO, please call (816) 246-4222 today.