Know The Different Types Of Heel Pain For Proper Treatment

By: Gen Wright

Every mile you walk puts approximately 60 tons of stress on each foot. Your feet can handle a heavy load, but too much stress pushes them over their limits, resulting in pain. When you pound your feet on hard surfaces while playing sports or wear shoes that irritate sensitive tissues, you may develop heel pain, which is the most common problem affecting the foot and ankle. A sore heel can typically get better on its own without surgery if you give it enough rest, but many people try to ignore the early signs of heel pain by continually performing the activities that caused it. When you continue to use a sore heel, it will only get worse and could potentially lead to a chronic condition that leads to more problems.

Heel Calluses and Fissures

Also known as plantar calluses, heel calluses develop when one metatarsal bone is longer, or lower, than the others and it hits the ground with more force than it is equipped to handle. As a result, the skin under the bone thickens, creating a callus that causes irritation and pain on the heel. In most cases, heel calluses can be treated without surgery. However, severe cases may require a surgical procedure called an osteotomy, which is performed to relieve the pressure on the bone. The procedure involves cutting the metatarsal bone in a "V" shape and lifting the bone to align with the other bones. This helps to alleviate the pressure and prevent the formation of a heel callus.

A heel fissure is the term for cracking skin on the heels, which can be an extremely painful condition that can cause bleeding. Open-backed sandals or shoes that allow more slippage around the heel while walking are often culprits that cause heel fissures. Skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, can also lead to heel fissures as the skin thickens because of the friction. Wearing proper shoes and the use of deep skin moisturizers and lotions can reduce the dryness associated with the condition and allow the foot to heal.

Haglund's Deformity

Haglund's deformity, which is also known as pump bump or retrocalcaneal bursitis) is a painful enlargement on the back of the heel bone that becomes irritated by shoes. Normally appearing as a red, painful, and swollen area in the back of the heel bone, women tend to develop Haglund's deformity more than men. This is due to the irritation from rigid heel counters in shoes that rub up and down on the back of the heel bone. Changing shoes, soaking feet, and anti-inflammatory medications often mitigate the symptoms of this problem. As always, consult your podiatrist before taking any medications for your condition.

Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Spur)

The most common form of heel and arch pain is referred to as plantar fasciitis. It is often traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot, but more specifically it is an inflammation of the connective tissue, called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. Overpronation is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis because as the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens the foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this causes inflammation.

Also known as heel spur syndrome, plantar fasciitis can often be successfully treated with conservative measures, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy.

Remember to contact Dr. Mark Forman, your Scottsdale podiatrist, if you are experiencing pain in your heel. Immediate diagnosis and treatment is vital to maintaining healthy, happy feet without pain.

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Dr. Mark Forman is an experienced board certified podiatrist, offering a wide array of foot and ankle care including medical pedicures in Scottsdale for healthy, happy feet. This highly qualified Scottsdale podiatrist provides treatment for medical pedicure, facials for your feet, and heel pain in Scottsdale, among many other foot and ankle ailments.

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