In 2009 the American Podiatric Medical Association conducted a national survey about foot problems in general, and heel pain in particular. You may be surprised to know that about 8 in 10 people had some sort of foot ailment in the previous year, and over half of them involved the back of the foot. Heel pain causes vary, but it is a common—if not normal—complaint.
Why Heels Hurt
Plantar Fasciosis/Fasciitis—is a problem with the ligament along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel (calcaneus) to your toe bones. When stressed, the tissue begins to break down and lose elasticity, both of which can lead to pain or inflammation. Its signature symptom is stabbing pain under the front of the calcaneus with the first steps in the morning.
Achilles Tendinosis/Tendinitis—is felt at the back of your ankle, above your heel bone. The Achilles connects your calf muscle to the calcaneus. If the muscles are too tight or the tendon is short, it can deteriorate or develop inflammation in the same way as the fascia under your foot. Sometimes it ruptures completely, causing immediate and severe pain.
Sever’s Disease (calcaneal apophysitis) occurs in growing children when there is a discrepancy in the growth rate between the heel bone and the Achilles. The growth plate in the bone is irritated, and pain is felt at the back of it, especially after physical activity.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is a form of neuropathy that occurs when the tibial nerve in the back of your foot is entrapped and pressured. Pain can extend from the heel area into your foot and toes.
Bursitis—inflammation of a bursa—can occur in the fluid sac at the back of the heel that cushions your calcaneus and Achilles tendon. Landing hard on your heels or pressure from your shoes can irritate the bursa, leading to inflammation and pain deep inside or at the back of the bone.
Bone Growths (spur or pump bump) at the back of your heel can result from friction against shoes—especially heels. The tissues around this bony bump can become red, swollen, and painful.
Stress Fractures—tiny cracks in the calcaneus—can occur because of overuse, when the tissue is not strong enough to absorb repeated trauma. You could also have a full fracture from a fall or car crash. Both types of breaks are painful and take several weeks to heal.
Arthritis—either the rheumatoid variety or gout—can cause discomfort in the joints around the heel bone, the first from inflammation and damage to the cartilage, and the second from sharp urate crystals that lodge in the joints.
A few other causes include a bone bruise from stepping on something hard, degeneration in the fat pad under the heel (less cushioning), or an infection or cyst in the bone that makes it uncomfortable.
Heel Pain Treatment in the Oakland Area
We can treat all these types of foot problems at our podiatry office in Berkeley, CA—but only if you come and see us. That is another thing the 2009 survey found—many people went on suffering and never consulted a doctor, much less one whose training and experience is focused on feet and how they work.
Let Yuko Miyazaki, DPM evaluate your sore feet and find out what’s at the bottom of your troubles. Only then can we design and target a treatment plan that will alleviate your pain and allow you to function normally again. Call our office on Colby Street at (510) 647-3744 or use our contact form online to schedule your appointment, and take your first steps to ending your discomfort.