Heel pain can seemingly strike out of nowhere, and when rest and ice don’t relieve your symptoms, its best to have the problem checked out. Untreated heel issues can become chronic.
Heel pain is a common complaint and when it strikes your first instinct is likely to wait and see if it improves. You may turn to some self-care approaches, such as ice, heat, rest, and compression. In some cases, this is all you need for heel pain to resolve. If heel pain sticks around, it’s time to visit an orthopedic physician for an evaluation.
At Inspire Health Clinics in South Jordan, Utah, foot and ankle surgeon Matthew Graff, DPM, specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the foot and ankle. Problems that affect the feet and ankles are often dismissed until they become too painful to ignore. In this post, we discuss more about heel pain and the signs and signals that you should see a physician.
When heel pain signals an injury
Your feet and ankles have a big job to do. They carry your weight so that you can walk, jump, run, and move effortlessly. Foot and ankle injuries are common and a sign that you should see an orthopedic physician to get checked out.
Any damage to the foot or ankle requires medical treatment so that your foot can heal properly. Untreated foot and ankle injuries can result in chronic problems down the road. Here’s what to look out for that may point to a heel injury:
- Problems walking
- Tingling or numbness
If you have a history of foot and ankle problems it’s important to see an orthopedic physician to check for underlying issues.
Common causes of heel pain
Overuse and underlying medical conditions commonly cause heel pain.
A thick band of tissue called a plantar fascia runs from the back of your heel to your toes. This tissue can become inflamed. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and typically causes a stabbing pain at the bottom of the foot in the heel area. You’re more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you’re an athlete or stand on your feet for long periods. Excess pressure on the plantar fascia can cause irritation and inflammation.
A heel spur is a bony growth that forms at the bottom or back of your heel. It varies in size and can cause pain when you walk. Not all heel spurs cause pain, and many people who have them are unaware of it. When a heel spur does cause pain, it can make it difficult for you to walk comfortably.
Bursa are fluid-filled sacs that cushion your joints so that they glide smoothly. Bursitis occurs when the bursa near the heel joint becomes irritated or inflamed. This can cause your heel to feel painful and swollen.
The Achilles tendon connects your lower leg to your heel bone. This tendon is vulnerable to overuse if you play sports that involve running, such as basketball. You’re also more likely to develop Achilles tendonitis if you’re overweight. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon can cause heel pain and limit your range of motion. Left untreated, Achilles tendonitis can result in a tendon rupture.
If you’re dealing with heel pain, discomfort, limited range of motion, or other heel issues, it’s best to consult with a foot and ankle specialist for further evaluation.
Don’t ignore heel pain. A prompt diagnosis paves the way for treatment to relieve your pain. Give us a call to schedule a visit with Dr. Graff. New and existing patients can also request an appointment using our online booking form.