What is a Heel Pain?
Heel pain which includes plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are one of the most common complaints seen on the foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the large ligament in the bottom of the foot. Although most cases of plantar fasciitis occur near the heel, often described as sharp heel pain, this condition can be evident anywhere from the heel all the way to the ball of the foot.
In order to feel the plantar fascia ligament, with one hand bend the big toe upwards, run your finger from your other hand along the bottom of the foot, you will feel a large cord-like structure that runs from the ball of your foot to your heel. The purpose of this structure is to act as a bowstring in order to support the structure of your arch.
The Causes of Severe Heel Pain of Foot
Plantar fasciitis and heel pain can have various causes, not all of which are fully understood. Whilst there are many different causes of heel pain, the most common cause is plantar fasciitis (plantar fash-ee -eye-tis).
The plantar fascia is a broad, flat ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the front of the foot. It gives the foot support.
Plantar fasciitis heel pain can occur at any age but is commoner in the elderly and in those of us who are overweight.
There are other possible causes of foot pain such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout but plantar fasciitis probably makes up about 95 percent of the causes of heel pain. I initially blamed my shoes. Although shoes play a part, it is not always that simple.
Common triggers for heel pain or plantar fasciitis include the following.
- Tight calf muscles.
- Tight Achilles tendon tissues.
- Stress in the arch of the foot.
- Running or another exercise without warm up.
- Poor footwear.
- An extended walk.
Heel pain can come from being on your feet for long hours in the day or wearing uncomfortable shoes, but severe heel pain can sometimes signal a problem in the foot. Pain that is very strong, recurring, or constant, and that does not go away within a few days is most likely not just a case of sore feet. Other possible symptoms include swelling or redness, abnormal discoloration, and heel pain which prevents normal walking. Having heel pain during the night or while at rest is also unusual. These symptoms are enough reason to visit a doctor.
For severe heel pain related to shoes or being on your feet for extended periods of time, you can try putting in heel inserts on the affecting shoes. There are various types of heel and shoe inserts which provide support for different parts of the foot. Experimenting with them until you find something that helps is an option, otherwise, it is also possible to ask a pharmacist or foot specialist. By describing your symptoms, they may be able to match you up with one or two different options which would most likely help.
If the pain persists and changing your shoes, adding inserts, and a few days of rest do not help, then a visit to the doctor is in order. The doctor, or foot specialist, can better assess the exact cause of the pain. For the most part, if you have experimented with your shoes and support and could not get better, the problem is internal and may require medicine or surgery. For example, plantar fasciitis is one common foot problem that is an inflammation of the tissue of the arch. This can, if left untreated, cause severe pain and lead to a heel spur from avoiding the arch and walking primarily on the heel. These two conditions often come together or one after the other.
It is also possible to get tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is much like carpal tunnel in the hands. Essentially it is the pinching of a nerve in the foot. This can be very painful, much like carpal tunnel, and often requires strong anti-inflammatory medication and potentially a cortisone shot depending on the severity. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can also be abated by changing footwear and adding better cushioning or support, but for the most part, once the nerve is constrained it needs extra help to go back to normal.
Sometimes severe heel pain can be more in the posterior of the heel, signaling a possible problem with the Achilles’ tendon, or even a stress fracture in the bone of the heel. The Achilles tendon can tear due to wear and tear or strained use, or it can become inflamed and develop tendonitis. A tear in the Achilles’ tendon may require surgery, while tendonitis can be regulated with anti-inflammatory medicine. Stress fractures are most common with runners and are quite rare, but if you spend a lot of time running on hard surfaces it can be a possibility if experiencing severe heel pain.
Quick Tips: Severe Pain In Heel of Foot, Last Updated: 11/1/2018