Heel Pain is on the Rise

Most heel pain happens when there is irritation or inflammation of the fascia. That’s the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.

More than two million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis, a sharp, stabbing, sometimes burning pain in the heel or arch of the foot. It’s anticipated this number will rise as the weather warms up and people become more active.

β€œMost heel pain happens when there is irritation or inflammation of the fascia. That’s the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. When it’s inflamed, it hurts,” explained Dr. Diana Perry of CIC Foot & Ankle in Flagstaff. β€œPatients tell me it’s worse when they get out of bed in the morning or after sitting for a while. That’s because the fascia will stretch out as you walk, so it’ll start to feel better. But, if you stop moving for a while, the pain will come back.”

Walking or standing on hard surfaces, a few extra pounds and certain illnesses, like gout, arthritis and psoriasis can trigger heel pain. “Increasing your activity level or new shoes are prime culprits for causing this type of pain,” said Perry. “Being overweight can also put extra pressure on the heels, resulting in pain as well.”

Heel spurs are another factor. “A calcium deposit, or heel spur, may develop where the fascia connects to the heel bone,” explained Perry. “It surprises a lot of people, but most of the time it is not the heel spur that is causing the pain, it’s the fascia pulling on the bone.” In either case, seeing a foot doctor can help relieve the symptoms.

Seeking care is important because the longer heel pain remains untreated, the worse it can become. But the good news is that approximately 90% of the time, conservative care (non-surgical treatment) is effective in treating the pain.

“The key is diagnosing the cause of the pain,” said Perry. “In many cases, it comes when your feet are out of alignment.” When your feet are functioning properly, they flatten and regain their arches. When this doesn’t happen, it leads to pain and discomfort. “If you’re not walking with a normal gait, it puts undue pressure on different joints,” explained Perry. “This causes the muscles to pull harder on some areas, which is not normal.”

Relieving the abnormal stresses on the soft tissues and the subsequent imbalance of the foot can help alleviate the problem. “There are steps we can take to help your feet work better,” said Perry. β€œThe first step is seeing a foot doctor.” FBN

By Reisha Zang

dr Diana Perry, DPM, specializes in limb preservation and trauma of the foot. You can be reached at CiC 928-719-7400.

Reisha Zang is director of patient education at CiC. You may contact her at 928-719-7400 or [email protected]

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