When we get a new patient in the office that’s complaining of pain in their heels and arch, the most common culprit is plantar fasciitis (pronounced planter fash-e–itis). This condition is one of the many that will get worse if you don’t seek treatment, so ignoring the pain is not to your advantage.
It’s a necessity if you want to walk, run or jump, so any type of injury to this vital tendon can disable you just fast as it took old Achilles down.
When that tendon becomes inflamed we call it Achilles tendonitis, which usually occurs where the tendon meets the heel but it can also spread up toward the calf muscle.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tibial nerve, which runs through the ankle, becomes squeezed or is under abnormal pressure and it becomes inflamed.
It’s kind of like carpal tunnel syndrome — which is a wrist disorder – of the foot.
Two of the most common causes of heel pain are plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, but occasionally a diagnosis is not the end of the story.
Sometimes these conditions are complicated by a heel neuroma, which is the swelling of a nerve that runs through the heel due to injury.
If you think heel spurs are little silver jangly things cowboys wear on their boots, this page is for you.
Heel spurs are bone outgrowths on the heel that can cause a considerable amount of discomfort and heel pain when it rubs on tendons and nerves.
Pronation is a normal motion that our feet make as they walk. With each step, the heel touches the ground first, then the foot rolls forward to the toes, causing the ankle to roll inward slightly and the arch to flatten out.
But when that rolling inward becomes more pronounced, that’s over-pronation, which is a big problem.
When a preteen or teen complains of heel pain, a frequent diagnosis is Sever’s disease, which sounds much worse than it really is. This common growing pain is relatively short-lived and won’t cause any long-term problems. It can, however, be quite painful; we’ll help relieve the discomfort and speed their recovery.
Sever’s Disease Targets Active Children
Some children, particularly active kids who participate in sports, experience Sever’s disease as they hit their adolescent growth spurt. It usually happens between the ages of 8-13 for girls and 10-15 for boys. There is also an increased risk of Sever’s disease among kids with flat feet, high arches, short leg syndrome, over-pronation (feet that roll inward when they walk) or who are overweight or obese.
Stress fractures, also called hairline fractures, are a tiny crack in a bone that will widen and worsen over time. While they can certainly occur anywhere in the body, the most common stress fractures are found in the weight-bearing ankle and foot bones.
Symptoms include pain and swelling that worsen during activity and ease up when you’re at rest. Sometimes the area over the bone might feel tender to the touch.
Obesity can wreak havoc on your feet and ankles.
Multiple studies have linked a higher BMI (body mass index) with foot and ankle problems, and even amounts as small as an extra 10 pounds can cause issues.
If the edges of your heels are dry, scaly and hardening, apply a heavy moisturizing lotion each night before bed and sleep with socks on. We recommend using a moisturizing lotion for dry and cracked heels.
A product called Heels So Smooth is excellent for softening the heels. They are sort of like socks except the material only covers the low ankle, heel and arch. Your toes are free to wiggle! The gel substance in the heel material works on softening your heels as you sleep.
You can also use a pumice stone or a loofah soap called Mod Pod Buff to gently exfoliate the callus each night before applying the lotion. Be careful not to rub so hard that it causes pain or bleeding. For this reason, we do NOT suggest using a popular product called the Ped Egg. Diabetics should take extra care with a pumice stone because some have a condition called neuropathy and they may not be able to tell the amount of pressure they are applying, which could damage the skin and lead to other complications. The natural loofah sponge soap is a gentle exfoliation option.
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