What could be causing your heel pain?
Many different factors can contribute to heel pain. Some of the most common are as follows:
- Plantar Fasciitis — This is the most common type of heel pain and occurs when the connecting tissues in your feet become inflamed. Many people will notice pain in the arch and beneath their heel.
- Flat Feet — When you have flat feet, there is a constant pull on the arches of your feet. This causes heel pain and can be corrected with custom orthotics. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
- Being Overweight — Heel pain is very common in our population, especially here in the United States where a high percentage of people are overweight. When you are overweight, it is important to note that the amount of force and pressure that is placed on your foot doubles and even triples. If for example, you weigh 150 pounds, the amount of force and pressure on your foot is anywhere from 300-450 pounds. If you gain a few pounds, it really means a lot more in terms of the pressure on your feet.
- Everyday Stress — When you do a lot of walking, the first thing that hits the ground is your heel. The average American takes between 8,000 and 10,000 steps per day. This means that 8,000-10,000 times a day, you are pounding your heel. If you are carrying extra pounds or working at a job that requires a lot of standing or walking, this increases the possibility of having heel pain.
Heel pain can be located behind your heel near the Achilles tendon or under your heel around the plantar fascia and other muscles. It could also be in the bone if there is a stress fracture, a broken bone, or you could even have a bone tumor. All of these different causes would involve stress on the bone from being overweight or spending long periods of time standing or walking.
It is unfortunate to mention that sometimes heel pain may be due to bone tumors or cancer of the bone. And, albeit rare, this does occur and we have seen it with different patients over the years. It is important to know that not all heel pain is caused by the same problem. Some patients may have a pinched nerve that runs along the side of their heel, others may have a fracture of their heel bone, and some may even have swelling due to bursitis in the area. When we treat these conditions, we rely on x-rays and occasionally an MRI or a CAT scan. At times, we may do blood tests to make sure the patient doesn’t have any other underlying conditions that may be causing their heel pain.
What are the symptoms of heel pain?
Symptoms of heel pain may involve throbbing, burning, shooting pains in your heel, pain as you’re getting out of bed, or pain trying to stand up after having been seated in a chair for an extended amount of time. Sometimes being in a car for a while and then trying to get out can also prove to be painful when standing on your foot. Patients often describe their heel pain as feeling like a needle is sticking them in the bottom of their foot or like stepping on a nail. It is also common to hear patients say that heel pain forces them to walk on their tiptoes.