Types of Heel Pain
There is a large variety of heel pain problems you can be experiencing.
Plantar Fasciitis (heel spur)
Plantar fasciitis is the term commonly used to refer to heel and arch pain traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot. More specifically, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue, called plantar fascia, that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. Overpronation is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. As the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens the foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this causes inflammation.
Also known as heel spur syndrome, the condition is often successfully treated with conservative measures, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications. In persistent cases, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment (ESWT) may be used to treat the heel pain.
Heel fissures is the term for cracking of the skin of the heels. This can be a painful condition that can cause bleeding. Open-backed sandals or shoes that allow more slippage around the heel while walking are often culprits that cause heel fissures. Skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, can also lead to heel fissures. The skin thickens as a result of the friction. Wearing proper shoes and the use of deep skin moisturizers and lotions can reduce the dryness associated with the condition and allow the foot to heal.
Heel calluses, also called plantar calluses, develop when one metatarsal bone is longer or lower than the others and it hits the ground with more force than it is equipped to handle. As a result, the skin under this bone thickens. The resulting callus causes irritation and pain.
In most cases, heel calluses can be treated without surgery. In severe cases, however, a surgical procedure, called an osteotomy, is performed to relieve the pressure on the bone. The procedure involves cutting the metatarsal bone in a "V" shape, lifting the bone and aligning it with the other bones. This alleviates the pressure and prevents formation of a heel callus.
Haglund's Deformity (also known as pump bump or retrocalcaneal bursitis) is a painful enlargement on the back of the heel bone that becomes irritated by shoes. It normally appears as a red, painful, and swollen area in the back of the heel bone. Women tend to develop the condition more than men because of irritation from rigid heel counters in shoes that rub up and down on the back of the heel bone.
Changing shoes, soaking feet, and anti-inflammatory medications often mitigate the symptoms of this problem. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications.
If you're experiencing pain in your heels, consult with one of our doctors. Call our Albuquerque, NM office today at (505) 247-4164.