Foot Problems

Heel & Arch Pain

Heel pain can generally be traced to faulty biomechanics, which places too much stress on the heel bone, ligaments or nerves in the area. Stress could result while walking or jumping on hard surfaces, or from poorly made footwear. Being overweight is also a major contributing factor. Some general health conditions - arthritis, gout, and circulatory problems, for example - also cause heel pain.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the long band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot, resulting in arch and heel pain.

Heel spurs are growths of bone on the underside of the heel bone. They can occur without pain; pain may result when inflammation develops at the point where the spur forms.

Pump bump (Haglund's deformity) is a bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone. The deformity generally is the result of faulty biomechanics causing increased motion of the heel bone against the shoe counter.

Achilles tendonitis is an irritation and inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone. Achilles meningitis can be caused by improper warm up or over-training. It can be treated with ice, rest, aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications. Chronic pain or any swelling should be professionally evaluated.

Source: British Columbia Association of Podiatrist - http://www.foothealth.ca/ Retrieved: 2009-06-01

Statistics

  • 15% of patients who see a podiatrist complain of heel pain.
  • 73% of patients with heel pain are diagnosed with either plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome.
  • 90% of those who suffer from plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome respond to non-surgical care.
  • 83.5% of patients with plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome experience pain with first steps in the morning.
  • Plantar fasciitis can occur with or without a heel spur present.
  • Plantar fasciitis and heel spur syndrome affect women more than men.

Causes Of Heel & Arch Pain

  • Over-stretching the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot
  • Muscle imbalance
  • Bone deformity
  • Obesity
  • Trauma
  • Tightness of the muscles on the back of the leg
  • Improper warm-up or over-training

What can you do?

  • Warm up and stretch properly before and after exercise.
  • Wear appropriate shoe gear.
  • RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

What can a Podiatrist do?

  • Perform a physical examination.
  • Request an X-ray, bone scan, CT, MRI or other imaging studies.
  • Recommend taping.
  • Recommend an over-the-counter arch support or prescribe a custom orthoses.
  • Prescribe appropriate medications.
  • Administer injections of cortisone and local anesthetic.
  • Perform surgery if necessary.