END OF SUMMER HEEL PAIN
As summer comes to an end and flip-flops, flat sandals and warm weather athletic shoes start making their way back into the closet, many will notice heel pain has developed in one or both of their feet. Doctors of Northwest Podiatry share, that although heel pain may be caused by walking gait abnormalities, many times stress from an injury, or a bruise incurred from walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces, or wearing poorly constructed footwear can also cause heel problems.
A sore heel will usually get better on its own without surgery if given enough rest. However, many people ignore the early signs of heel pain and keep on doing the activities that caused it. When a person continues to walk on a sore heel, it will only get worse and could become a chronic condition leading to more problems.
If pain and other symptoms of inflammation—redness, swelling, heat—persist, one should limit normal daily activities and contact us to make an appointment.
Common causes of heel pain include:
- Heel Spurs: A bony growth on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs result from strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot, by stretching of the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot, and by repeated tearing away of the lining or membrane that covers the heel bone. These conditions may result from biomechanical imbalance, running or jogging, improperly fitted or excessively worn shoes, or obesity.
- Plantar Fasciitis: Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of fibrous connective tissue running along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. It is common among athletes who run and jump a lot, and it can be quite painful. It is also may be caused from moving away from flat-heeled footwear to a higher heel and vice versa.
- Excessive Pronation: Pronation is the normal flexible motion and flattening of the arch of the foot that allows it to adapt to ground surfaces and absorb shock in the normal walking pattern. Excessive pronation can create an abnormal amount of stretching and pulling on the ligaments and tendons attaching to the bottom back of the heel bone.
- Achilles Tendinitis: Pain at the back of the heel is associated with Achilles tendinitis, which is inflammation of the Achilles tendon as it runs behind the ankle and inserts on the back surface of the heel bone. It is common among people who run and walk a lot and have tight tendons. The condition occurs when the tendon is strained over time, causing the fibers to tear or stretch along its length, or at its insertion on to the heel bone.
Other possible causes of heel pain include:
- An inflamed bursa (bursitis), a small, irritated sac of fluid.
- Other soft-tissue growth. Such heel pain may be associated with a heel spur or may mimic the pain of a heel spur.
- Haglund's deformity, a bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone.
- A bone bruise or contusion, which is an inflammation of the tissues that cover the heel bone.
A variety of steps can be taken to avoid heel pain and accompanying afflictions:
- Wear shoes that fit well—front, back, and sides—and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters
- Wear the proper shoes for each activity
- Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
- Prepare properly before exercising. Warm up and do stretching exercises before and after running.
- If obese, lose weight