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Common Causes of Heel Pain

Your feet are an often overlooked but remarkable part of your body. Here are three fascinating facts about feet: As you walk, each foot takes 1.5 times your weight per step; nearly a quarter of all your bones are located in your feet; and they act as natural shock absorbers. 

The 26 bones, 33 joints, 10 tendons, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments located in each foot are instrumental in maintaining balance, providing stability while standing, and without them, walking, running, and jumping would be impossible. 

Specifically, your heels are an important part of how your feet work. The heel contains the largest bone in the foot (the calcaneus), two muscles, and your Achilles tendon, which helps to evenly distribute the weight you put on your foot. 

Pain in your heels can occur for many reasons and may be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-lasting). Not dealing with the cause of this pain can compromise your feet long term, so to find out more about what you can do to manage the pain, we need to learn more about the condition, look at common causes, and examine prevention and treatment options.

If you live in the Midtown or Downtown New York, New York area and you’re trying to cope with heel pain, Drs. Steven Abramow,  Mark J. Landsman,  Howard R. Shapiro,  Howard Zaiff and our dedicated medical team at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC can help you find relief.

Facts about heel pain

As we’re on our feet quite a lot over the course of our lives, foot problems are pretty common, and heel pain is an issue that affects over 2 million Americans of all genders and ages annually. 

This pain can be felt beneath, behind, or inside the heel bone itself, and your risk of struggling with it increases with factors like running and jumping during sports, flat feet, high arches, ill-fitting shoes, or obesity.

Other signs can accompany heel pain depending on the cause of the problem, such as bony heel growths, discoloration, swelling, and stiffness.

Frequent causes of heel pain

Here are some common reasons you have heel pain:

Plantar fasciitis

Your plantar fascia is a powerful ligament located on the heel bone that runs all the way to the front of your foot, and this condition is the result of inflammation in that area. This is one of the leading causes of heel pain.

Heel bursitis

The fibrous sac of fluid located in joints is called bursa, and heel bursitis is inflammation of the sacs in your heel. This is often the result of landing awkwardly on your feet or pressure from your footwear.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS)

This is the term for tissue compressing a large nerve in the back of your foot, and this form of neuropathy can happen in your ankles, heels or other parts of your foot.

Stress fractures

This type of fracture can happen because of repetitive injuries from exercise, work, or sports activity. Stress fractures may also result from osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bone density.

Achilles tendinitis

Your Achilles tendon is an important tendon in the back of your foot, and this condition results from inflammation of that area. It often comes from overuse and various injuries.

Prevention and treatment options

Managing prevention and treatment of heel pain will vary depending on the cause, but there are many ways to do both. 

Important steps in preventing heel pain include keeping a healthy body weight to relieve stress on your lower body, wearing appropriate footwear, warming up before intense physical activity, and listening to your body when you experience pain or other discomfort.

To treat heel pain, ice packs, resting, and foot taping can help with mild injuries, while immobilization, physical therapy, surgery, and modifications to footwear can help moderate to severe issues. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can help to reduce pain, but what drugs you get will depend on your unique needs.

Heel pain is frustrating and can make doing things difficult when standing up, but there are options and we’re here to help. Make an appointment with our team at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC today to get your feet the treatment they need.

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