Felt most intensely when you place weight on the affected heel, heel pain can start as mild and build up over time. There is a large number of factors that can contribute to heel pain, so seeking the help of podiatrist to determine the cause and recommend a treatment plan is a good idea before the pain becomes too much to bear. Two main causes of heel pain are:
- Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the bowstring-like tissue band which runs under the sole of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the tip of the toes, and acts as a shock absorber to the foot. When this band becomes inflamed, it causes pain centered under the heel. The pain can be mild at first, and will often be sharpest first thing in the morning when you take your first steps or when you’re placing weight on the affected foot. Unfortunately, the pain is persistent and can affect your everyday life in a big way. But fortunately plantar fasciitis is fairly easy to treat.
- Heel Spurs. A heel spur is a calcium deposit which forms under the heel bone. The deposit, or growth, rarely causes pain on its own, but over time, the body will create tissue formations around the heel spur to protect and cushion over the area. The extra tissue is what causes the pain when it causes stress on the surrounding ligaments, muscle and nerves. Basically, the body is trying to protect the heel but the extra tissue takes too much stress and causes painful pressure. The pain can be intermittent to chronic and can be especially severe when walking or running. Heel spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs are diagnosed using x-rays.
Heel pain can be troublesome because it is so persistent and has a great impact on your daily life. However, there are some things you can do to prevent heel pain:
- Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight causes stress on the foot and particularly on the heels.
- If you are a runner, do not increase your mileage too rapidly.
- Wear good-quality shoes.