Screen_Shot_2024-05-08_at_10.jpegDo you often experience pain in your heel? If so, you’re not alone. Annually, over 2 million Americans suffer from heel pain. This condition affects individuals of all ages and genders, making it a common problem. While it may seem minor, heel pain should not be ignored as it can impact your daily activities and overall quality of life.

AtNorthern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, we understand the impact that heel pain can have on your life, and we are here to help.Our team of podiatrists is dedicated to providing individualized care and effective treatment options for all types of heel pain.Schedule an appointment to get the relief you need and deserve.

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In this article, we will discuss six common causes of heel pain and how our team can assist in alleviating your discomfort.

1.Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar heel pain is the most common cause of heel pain. Approximately10% of the general population, with 83% of those affected being actively employed adults, suffer from this condition. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes, becomes inflamed or irritated.

This can happen due to repetitive strain on the foot from activities such as running, walking, or standing for long periods. Other risk factors forplantar fasciitis include obesity, high arches, and wearing shoes with poor support.

Our team offers various treatment options for plantar fasciitis, including:

We can also provide tips for stretching and strengthening exercises to help prevent future flare-ups.

2. Achilles Tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body, connecting your calf muscle to your heel bone. When this tendon becomes inflamed or irritated, it can cause severe pain in the back of your heel. This condition is known as Achilles tendinitis.

Achilles tendinitis can be caused by overuse, sudden increase in physical activity, or wearing improper footwear. Individuals with flat feet, tight calf muscles, and obesity are also at a higher risk of developing this condition.

We offer various treatment options for Achilles tendinitis, including:

  • Cortisone injections to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Custom orthotics to support the foot and relieve pressure on the Achilles tendon.
  • Bracing or taping to provide additional support and stability.
  • Cold laser therapy to promote healing and alleviate pain.
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon.

Our team will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that fits your specific needs.

3. Heel Spurs

Heel spurs, also known as calcaneal spurs, are bony growths that can develop on the bottom of your heel bone. They often occur in individuals with plantar fasciitis or other conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the foot.

While some people may not experience any symptoms from heel spurs, they can cause significant pain and discomfort for others. If you are experiencingheel pain, it is important to consult with a podiatrist to determine the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

We can utilize diagnostic tools such asX-rays to confirm the presence of heel spurs and recommend treatment options, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Custom orthotics to relieve pressure and provide support for the foot.
  • Cortisone injections to alleviate symptoms.
  • Cold laser therapy to promote tissue healing.
  • In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to remove the spur.

4. Bursitis

Bursitis is a condition that occurs when the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate joints, become inflamed. This inflammation can cause pain and discomfort in the heel and other areas of the body.

Individuals who engage in activities that put repetitive stress on their feet, such as running or jumping, are more susceptible to bursitis. Other risk factors include wearing improper footwear and having certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Our podiatrists will perform a thorough examination to determine if bursitis is the cause of your heel pain. We may also recommend:

  • Cortisone injections to decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Custom orthotics to reduce pressure on the affected area.
  • Surgical removal of the inflamed bursa if necessary.

We will also work with you to develop a plan to prevent future flare-ups.

5. Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are tiny cracks that develop in bones due to repetitive stress or overuse. They can occur in any bone but are most common in the weight-bearing bones of the foot, such as the heel bone.

Individuals who engage in high-impact activities, such as running or dancing, and those with weakened bones or poor footwear are more susceptible to developing stress fractures. This condition can cause significant heel pain and may require a period of rest to heal properly.

Our team can provide diagnostic testing, such asMRI orX-rays, to confirm the presence of a stress fracture. Treatment options may include:

  • Casting or bracing to immobilize the foot and allow for proper healing.
  • Custom orthotics to provide support and cushioning for the foot.
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to align and stabilize the fractured bone properly.

Our team will work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan and prevent future stress fractures.

6. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the tibial nerve, which runs through the tarsal tunnel (a narrow space inside the ankle), becomes compressed or irritated. This can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the heel area.

Individuals with flat feet or those who have experienced an ankle injury are at a higher risk of developing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Treatment options may include:

  • Orthotics to support the foot and reduce pressure on the nerve.
  • Cortisone injections to decrease inflammation and pain.
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve.

Our team will evaluate your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms.

Tips for Preventing Heel Pain

While some conditions may be unavoidable, there are steps you can take to prevent or reduce your risk of developing heel pain. These include:

  • Wear well-fitting, comfortable, and supportive shoes.
  • Stretch before and after physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on the feet
  • Limit high-impact activities, especially if you have a history of foot injuries
  • Listen to your body and take breaks if you feel any discomfort or pain in your feet

When to See a Podiatrist

Some signs that indicate it may be time to see a podiatrist include:

  • Persistent or severe heel pain
  • Difficulty walking or putting weight on your heel
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your foot
  • Swelling or redness around the heel area

If left untreated, heel pain can worsen and significantly impact your daily activities. It is important to seek treatment from a podiatrist if you are experiencing symptoms to prevent further complications.

Heal Your Heels With Us!

Heel pain doesn't have to be a constant struggle in your life. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, you can find relief and return to your daily activities without discomfort. AtNorthern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, we are committed to helping our patients overcome foot-related challenges, ensuring they can walk, run, and live their lives to the fullest.

If you're experiencing heel pain or any other foot issues, don't wait for the problem to worsen.Book an appointment today and take the first step towards pain-free living. Remember, your feet carry you through life; it's time to take care of them.

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