With so many wonderful places to enjoy in the East Bay, you don’t want to be bogged down by heel pain. Hiking around Lake Anza at Tilden Regional Park or wandering among the interesting blooms at UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens can become a painful proposition if you have foot problems.
But no worries! Our team of experts is here to help you kick heel pain once and for all.
We take pride in offering treatment for a wide range of foot and ankle conditions and injuries, including those that cause heel pain. No matter what is causing your discomfort, we customize a treatment plan to help you get back to your favorite activities.
Of course, just because we treat so many different foot problems doesn’t mean they are all equally as common. In fact, there is one source of heel pain that tends to be more prominent than any other – plantar fasciitis.
But What is Plantar Fasciitis?
To best understand this condition, it can be helpful to know a bit about the anatomy of your heel.
The heel bone is known as the calcaneus, and it sits at the back of the foot, underneath the talus bone. There are two very important tissues that connect to the calcaneus: your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
Now, there are certainly issues that can arise on account of the Achilles tendon, but – as you might expect – plantar fasciitis is an injury to the plantar fascia. This fibrous tissue runs along the bottom of the foot and supports the arch.
Plantar fasciitis is a very common overuse injury caused when the plantar fascia is subjected to excessive stress. The extra forces cause tiny tears in the tissue, and repeated stretching and tearing results in irritation, inflammation, and pain.
The most easily identified sign of plantar fasciitis is an intense, stabbing pain upon your first steps following extended periods of rest. This pain is felt in the bottom of the heel and is often quite pronounced in the morning (after a night’s sleep).
The heel pain will usually subside in time as you move around, but it does return again after any additional periods of rest or time spent standing in one spot.
That said, other foot conditions can also cause your heels to complain. (Which takes us to our next point.)
Other Potential Culprits for Your Heel Pain
The other common cause of heel pain (Achilles tendinitis) can develop when the Achilles tendon is overworked. In this case, heel pain is experienced during and immediately after activity. You will find that pain becomes more intense over time, and especially if you aren’t taking the appropriate measures to treat or prevent the problem.
Other, less common, potential culprits include:
- Stress fractures
- Haglund’s deformity
- Sever’s disease
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Of course, the treatment we recommend will depend on your specific diagnosis, but most heel pain conditions include similar treatment measures.
So How is Heel Pain Treated?
Stretching exercises are a great way to start, and may turn out to be all the care you need. However, it’s certainly possible that you will require additional treatment.
Other components we may include in your plantar fasciitis treatment plan include:
- Choosing shoes wisely. Remember to get the right shoes for any sports activities. There are attractive shoes around that still provide the support and cushioning your feet need, so do your footwork and find them!
- Maintaining a healthy weight. It’s a fact: heavier people experience more stress on the bones and tissues in their feet, and often have more painful problems than those who stay in a normal weight range.
- Warming up before physical activity. Start with a brisk 5-minute walk or jumping jacks, followed by some dynamic stretches that mime the movements you will be making. After that, take time for some static stretches and cool down after your workout or game.
- Taking time to rest your feet. Taking time away from high-impact activities or, even better, replacing them with low-impact ones (cycling, swimming) will better allow your body to repair damaged areas.
- Icing the area in pain. An appropriate icing regimen can both relieve inflammation and reduce pain.
- Taking medication. We may recommend or prescribe certain pain relievers (including ibuprofen and naproxen), or use corticosteroid injections to provide relief.
- Considering wearing orthotics. Whether we prescribe custom orthotics or recommend certain heel cups or cushioning inserts, these devices can better distribute pressure and take it away from your fascia.
Follow our advice and you have a much better chance of avoiding heel pain; but if you still encounter a problem, don’t wait too long to call the office of Yuko Miyazaki, DPM in Berkeley, CA.
Reach us by phone at (510) 647-3744, or schedule online using our contact form. We’ll help you figure out what’s causing your issue and determine the best way to treat it.