When Does Heel Pain Warrant a Visit to a Podiatrist?

It’s true that age brings along aches and pains that become a new normal compared to when we were younger. Most of the time, those kinds of pains are passing and temporary. Pain that lingers, though, especially in your heels, may warrant attention. 

Dr. Errol Gindi has decades of experience as a podiatrist and is skilled at identifying the underlying cause of chronic heel pain. Once he identifies the cause, he helps patients understand the treatment options available to them. 

Your foot is a complex structure, and the heel is the largest bone in it. Your heel supports your entire body weight, and it’s a crucial element in your ability to stand, walk, run, climb stairs, and do many of the things most of us take for granted. When your heel hurts all the time, you realize just how important it is for your proper mobility. 

There are several potential causes for heel pain. You may be tempted to self-diagnose, but it’s important to remember that if your heel hurts consistently and isn’t getting better, you should see a podiatrist such as Dr. Gindi for a proper diagnosis. Treatment from a skilled, qualified professional is the most critical step in getting better. 

Biomechanical failure

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), most heel pain can be attributed to abnormalities in how you walk. Gait issues can put too much stress on your heel bone, or on the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that attach to it. 

Other common causes of heel pain include improper footwear, injury — such as a bruise — or being overweight. All of those things can lead to biomechanical failure. 

Heel spurs

A bony growth on your heel, called a heel spur, can cause heel pain. When the muscles and ligaments of your foot are strained repeatedly, the tissue that connects the heel and ball of your foot is stretched and torn away from the lining that covers your heel bone. The result is a heel spur. You can’t see the spur, but it’s visible on an X-ray.

Plantar fasciitis 

Another frequent cause of heel pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis. The thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot is called the plantar fascia. When that tissue is overused, either because you’re on your feet often or you’re an athlete, among other potential causes, tiny tears develop.

Those tears cause inflammation, which is part of your body’s healing response, and you feel pain. You may also develop a heel spur. Resting offers temporary relief, but after rest, as when you get out of bed in the morning, the plantar fascia is stretched again, and you feel the pain once more. 

Pronation problems

The way that your foot flattens and flexes as you walk is called pronation. Normally, your heel strikes the ground first, then your weight moves to the outside of your foot and then to your big toe. Your arch then rises, and your foot gets rigid, giving you the stability to move your body forward. 

When your foot rolls too far inward during a step, it’s called excessive pronation, or over pronation. Over pronation can cause pulling and straining on the soft tissues of your heel. 

Treatments

Treatments range from using ice to ease inflammation to surgical interventions, with numerous options between those two extremes. The best treatment for you depends on the underlying cause of your heel pain, as well as numerous other considerations. 

If you’d like to learn more about the causes of heel pain, and specifically the cause of your heel pain, give us a call at 516-200-4285 or book an appointment with us online.

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