Heel Pain

Heel pain is a vague term that describes pain located in the back, sides, or bottom of one's feet. One of the more common types of heel pain occurs in the bottom of the foot. The pain isworse after periods of rest. Some even state that they feel like they are walking on a stone. This commonly caused by a process known as plantar fasciitis.

Within this process, the bottom of the feet may hurt upon standing. This pain is usually located at the bottom inside part of the heel. It may actually gradually get better after walking; but after a period of rest or extended periods of activity, the pain is once again felt.

The plantar fascia is a ligamentous structure that originates on your heel bone and fans out and inserts into the toes. The purpose of the plantar fascia is to hold the muscles of the foot in close relationship to the bones and also to provide some support in the arch of the foot. When the toes move upward against the foot, the plantar fascia stretches taught and pulls the heel bone closer to the ball of the foot. This is the mechanism that that provides the arch support.

Plantar fasciitis is most often caused by improper mechanics of the foot. The three fascial bands may encounter swelling or micro tears causing an inflammatory response and the associated pain people relate.

Many people have referred to this entire process as heel spurs. At times, there can be a heel spur present with plantar fasciitis. The heel spur is not the problem but rather a result of the problem. It forms because of the pulling of the plantar fascia. There are people who have heel pain without the presence of a heel spur. Conversely, there are people who have heel spur present, without heel pain.

If you have heel pain, a podiatric physician should evaluate you. While the explanation of the problem is very helpful, the doctor will need to feel all of the structures around the heel and possibly take x-rays to confirm the diagnosis and look for the presence of a heel spur.

After a history and physical, your podiatrist will be able to discuss the problem and treatments with you. Some of the treatments are aimed at relieving the symptoms while others are aimed at controlling how your feet move and function while walking. There are even times when your doctor might suggest surgical intervention for this problem.

The purpose of this newsletter is to educate and not replace the advise of a medical professional. If you should have any questions, please seek the assistance of a podiatrist or other health professional that will be able to further the discussion and recommend appropriate interventions.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms addressed, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of your podiatrist for proper diagnosis.