Is heel pain keeping you down? Pain that occurs following an injury or early in an illness may play a protective role, warning us about the damage we have suffered. So what causes heel pain?
Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition in which a band of tissue in the sole of the foot becomes inflamed, leading to severe heel pain. The pain can be so bad that it hurts to walk, much less exercise or perform daily activities. If one step causes shooting pain in your heel—especially when you first get out of bed in the morning or stand up after sitting for a long period of time—plantar fasciitis may be to blame. Contact your podiatrist immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment of your pain.
Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist
Plantar fasciitis, or heel pain, occurs when the plantar fascia is strained over time beyond its normal extension. This causes the soft tissue fibers of the fascia to tear or stretch at points along its length, leading to inflammation, pain and possibly the growth of a bone spur where it attaches to the heel bone.
Inflammation may become irritated by shoes that lack appropriate support, mainly in the arch area and by the constant irritation associated with an athletic lifestyle. Resting may provide temporary relief, but when you resume walking you may experience a sudden elongation of the fascia band, which stretches and pulls on the heel. As you walk the pain may lessen or even disappear, but that may just be a false sense of relief, as the pain will often return after prolonged rest or extensive walking.
You can take steps now to avoid heel pain, including:
- Wear shoes that fit well
- Wear proper shoes for each activity
- Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
- Prepare properly before exercising by stretching and warming up
- Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities
- Don’t underestimate your body’s need for rest and good nutrition
- Lose excess weight
If pain and other symptoms of inflammation persist, you should limit your normal daily activities and contact your podiatrist immediately.