Heel pain is one of the most common complaints in our practice, and this issue can stem from many causes. They can have several origins, which are typically broken down into the following categories, many of which often cross over into one other.
- Anatomy-based problems (structures attached to the heel, or the heel bone itself)
- Mechanics (how the foot operates, especially if flat feet or high arches are present)
- Trauma-based problems (injury – this can also include chronic, repetitive motions in a workplace)
- Nerve based problems (pinched nerve, neuropathy, etc.)
- Arthritic based problems (not just typical “wear and tear” arthritis, but can include diseases that predispose patients to joint arthritis, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Gout, psoriasis, etc…)
The first step in solving heel pain is to find out the cause or developing a diagnosis. This can sometimes be challenging due to the many structures that are in and around the area of the heel. The doctor will perform a physical exam and may need to take X-rays to better assess the problem. Sometimes more advanced screening is necessary to help diagnose a condition, such as an MRI or CT scan. Once a cause has been diagnosed, then treatment can proceed. Treatments can obviously vary, but they may include the following:
- Immobilization of the extremity ( to allow it to rest )
- Physical therapy
- Strapping of the foot
- Bracing or orthotic therapy
We here at Foot Specialists of Greater Cincinnati will try to exhaust conservative care efforts. Surgery is typically reserved as a “last-ditch effort” to address the problem. Most often, heel problems can be managed successfully without the need for surgery.
As a side note, I’d like to mention a very common factor with heel pain. In our modern world, many of our patients are working long hours on concrete, or running and exercising more than in generations past. Many people assume concrete is a normal support or natural floor to work on; however, concrete is not a natural surface, and it can have significant consequences on your feet. Your feet were never designed for a world that works on concrete or steel.
If you are experiencing pain and have to work or exercise continuously on hard surfaces and are experiencing heel pain, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (859) 341-9900. We might be able to offer the solution you are looking for.