The most frequent cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is caused when the ligaments that connect your heel to your toes are inflamed, strained or torn. It can feel like a stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot or heel as soon you get out of bed in the morning, or after long periods of standing. Other contributing factors to plantar fasciitis include:
- High arches
- Flat feet
- Excess weight
- Improper fitting shoes or lacking arch support
- Long periods of standing, walking or running
What happens if plantar fasciitis goes untreated?
Plantar fasciitis can cause additional problems with your knees, hips or back because often we modify our gait or posture as a result of the pain.
Your primary care doctor or a foot specialist can diagnose plantar fasciitis by examining your foot and the area of pain along with your health history. Diagnostic tests aren’t typically needed, unless your physician suspects another reason for the pain. In that case, an X-ray or MRI may be ordered to verify the cause.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Fortunately, most cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and relatively simple remedies such as:
- Shoes with better arch support/off-the-shelf or custom orthotics
- Physical therapy sessions to learn exercises and other techniques to strengthen your leg muscles and stabilize your foot
- Night splints to stretch your calf, foot ligaments while you sleep
- Athletic tape the bottom of your foot to provide additional support
- Home exercise program to maintain strength and flexibility of your legs and feet
More severe cases may require anti-inflammatory medication and/or cortisone injections, and in very rare cases when more conservative treatments aren’t working, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to help improve the symptoms of your injured ligament.
Talk to your doctor or podiatrist about heel pain that may be keeping you from the activities you love.