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Heel and Arch Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendinitis

Heel pain, sometimes disabling, can occur in the front, back, or bottom of the heel (arch). Causes of heel pain may include Heel Spurs, Plantar Fasciitis, or Achilles Tendinitis.

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 imbalance when walking, 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 connective tissue (fascia) that runs along the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is common among athletes who run and jump a lot.

Achilles Tendinitis

Pain at the back of the heel is associated with Achilles tendinitis. This is caused by inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which runs from behind the ankle to the back of the heel bone. It is common among people who run and walk a lot and have tight tendons.

Diagnosis

A podiatrist will diagnosis the cause of heel pain by examining the area and may perform diagnostic X-rays to rule out problems of the bone.

Treatment Approach

  • Medication: Early treatment for heel pain might involve oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medication, exercise and shoe recommendations, or taping or strapping to support the foot. Physical therapy may be used in conjunction with such treatments.
  • Shoe Inserts: Custom shoe inserts, called orthotics, made by your podiatrist, will effectively treat the majority of heel and arch pain without the need for surgery.
  • Surgery: Patients with heel pain rarely require more surgery. However, if surgery is necessary, it may involve the release of the plantar fascia or other soft-tissue growth.