Why does my heel hurt?

Have you ever  gotten up in the morning, walked to the bathroom, and  had to limp because your heel was  painful? You most likely  had pain secondary to plantar fasciitis, one of the most common foot problems.   Plantar fasciitis    comes from damage and inflammation  in  the plantar fascia .  The  plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue that  supports the arch in the foot.  For reasons such as overuse, improper or  worn out  shoe wear,  and trauma, the fascia can become damaged.  It is a common misconception that heel pain comes from  heel spurs, but actually there is no correlation  between heel pain and heel spurs.

Initially to help the  pain and inflammation, your doctor may prescribe  anti-inflammatory medication such as Motrin, or possibly  even inject cortisone  around the fascia. These  treatments are helpful, but unless you get to the root of the problem , pain will most likely  recur.  Supporting the fascia is the most  important element of the treatment.  Non-supportive shoes such as loafers need to be discontinued, and supportive shoes such as running or walking shoes need to be worn at all times.  In addition some type of arch support can be very helpful in the shoe to help prevent the fascia  from being stressed too much while walking.  Stretching the calf muscles  along with icing the heel  at night  are also very important treatments  to help decrease  pain and inflammation in the fascia.

High impact exercise needs to be modified  while your  heel is painful.   If you are  running a lot or have increased your miles recently, you need to consider cross training. Spending some time on a stationary bike, road bike,  elliptical trainer, or swimming  can actually  improve your running.   Plantar fasciitis can be a very frustrating injury but can be treated effectively.  Less than ten percent of the people that have plantar fasciitis  need any type of surgery.  A minor procedure to release a portion of the fascia has shown to be very helpful with minimal disability but is always the last resort in treatment. Preventing  heel pain can be accomplished by  stretching regularly, replacing your running shoes  after three to four hundred miles, not increasing mileage by more than  5%  per week, and  limiting exercise when necessary.

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