The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This condition typically occurs after the age of 40 and can significantly limit your quality of life. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue extending from the heel to the ball of the foot that supports the arch and the small joints of the foot. When injured it typically begins to fray or tear where it inserts into the heel. A heel spur may or may not be present. Prolonged injury can severely limit activity and lead to compensatory pain typically occuring on the outside of the foot or in the opposite knee.
Dr. Bridger does NOT advocate stretching the plantar fascia when it is torn. Stretching puts strain on the fascia and leads to additional pain and discomfort. There are many misconceptions regarding how to resolve plantar fascia injuries vs how to prevent them. Once healed, stretching will help with prevention of recurrence. The key to resolving acute pain is by supporting the fascia and the foot, limiting motion to allow for healing, and reducing localized swelling.
If you are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, Dr Bridger will likely pad and tape your foot to provide support, immobilization, and edema control. He may discuss an injection or anti-inflammatory medication. He will discuss supportive shoegear which is essential to recovery. Taping and padding prevents the need for large immobilization boots. Plantar fasciitis typically resolves in about 4-6 weeks. Patients must avoid going barefoot as this causes bowstringing of the fascia and repeated re-injury. Orthotic devices may be recommended to prevent recurrence.
Other less common causes of heel pain include:
Heel pad atrophy
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