Foot pain can be a distressing and debilitating condition that affects people of all ages and lifestyles, from athletes pushing their limits to someone leading a more sedentary lifestyle. In this article, we shed light on the top five causes of heel pain, including the common symptoms and a range of treatment options, such as conservative measures and in-office interventions, to help you find relief.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most frequent causes of heel pain. This common foot condition involves inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia, a thick tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes.
The most common cause is a repetitive strain on the plantar fascia, such as excessive running and walking or wearing footwear without arch support. Being overweight or having tight calf muscles, high arches, or flat feet can also be contributing factors.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis aims to reduce pain, promote healing, and prevent recurrence. It includes:
Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition where the nerves in the foot become inflamed. This impacts the area between the third and fourth toes, although it can also occur between other toes.
The exact cause of Morton’s neuroma is not fully understood, but it’s believed to develop due to irritation, compression, or nerve injury. Contributing factors include wearing tight or high-heeled shoes that squeeze the toes together, engaging in activities that put repetitive stress on the foot, or foot deformities such as bunions and high arches. Many patients also have very thin fat padding under the ball of the foot, and wearing no shoes or less supportive shoes can cause irritation to the nerves.
Treatment for Morton’s neuroma aims to relieve pain and reduce pressure on the affected nerve. It includes:
Achilles tendinitis is characterized by inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon, the large tendon at the back of the leg joining the calf muscles to the heel bone.
Achilles tendinitis develops due to repetitive stress or overuse of the Achilles tendon. It can result from running and jumping, having tight calf muscles, or wearing ill-fitting footwear. Inadequate warm-ups or stretches before exercise and certain underlying foot mechanics or structural abnormalities can also be factors.
Treatment for Achilles tendinitis aims to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing of the tendon. It includes:
A bunion is a foot deformity occurring when the big toe gradually deviates toward the other toes, causing the joint to protrude outward. While the primary location of the pain is typically the base of the big toe, the deformity can alter foot mechanics and cause additional strain on the heel.
Bunions can be caused by structural abnormalities of the foot which overpronates and allows the bones to move out of place. While tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes can often aggravate foot pain these types of shoes do not cause the issues. Activities that put repetitive stress on the foot and toes, such as ballet or sports, can contribute to bunions, as can rheumatoid arthritis and neuromuscular disorders.
Treatment for bunions aims to relieve pain, slow the progression of the deformity, and improve foot function. It includes:
Ingrown toenails develop when the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to pain, swelling, and potential infection. They commonly affect the big toe but can occur in any toe. Ingrown toenails can be a recurring issue for some and may require medical intervention.
Cutting your toenails very short or round can cause the nails to grow into the surrounding skin. Stubbing the toe or repetitive pressure on the toenail can also lead to ingrown nails. Other factors include having naturally curved toenails or wearing shoes that crowd or exert pressure on the toes.
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition, and you can manage mild to moderate cases at home. Treatment includes the following measures:
If you have severe pain or a worsening infection and home remedies are unsuccessful, we recommend getting advice from a podiatric specialist.
Don’t ignore foot or heel pain, as this can exacerbate the symptoms. We recommend seeking medical attention if you experience persistent heel pain or suspect you have any of the above conditions. Our team of orthopedic specialists can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment plan for you.