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What’s Causing My Heel Pain?

Approximately 2 million people seek medical treatment for pain in the heel or arch of their foot every year. This common complaint is often due to plantar fasciitis. However, while that’s one of the main culprits, it’s not the only cause of heel pain.

As a board-certified surgeon at Precision Footcare, John Jurcisin, DPM, brings more than 30 years of experience in podiatric medicine to people in the Midtown East neighborhood of New York City. In this blog, Dr. Jurcisin shares insights into heel pain and what could be causing your discomfort.

Heel pain basics

Your foot and ankle combine to form a complex structure that contains 26 bones, and your heel is the largest bone. There are also 300 joints and more than 100 tendons, and they provide flexibility for a wide range of movements, such as walking and running. Due to the complex nature of this area of the body, many things can go wrong, including heel issues.

In most cases, heel pain begins gradually without an obvious injury. But, while it can start out mild, it can become severe and even debilitating. Without treatment, heel pain can also become a chronic problem.

Common causes of heel pain

Numerous conditions can lead to foot pain. However, the underlying cause is usually overuse, which can put too much stress or pressure on the heel. As a result, the most common heel pain conditions Dr. Jurcisin treats are plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs, and stress fractures.

Plantar fasciitis 

This form of heel pain develops when the strong ligament that runs from your heel bone to the tip of your foot becomes damaged and inflamed. This tissue, known as the plantar fascia, absorbs shock, supports the arch of your foot, and helps you walk. 

Achilles tendonitis 

If you have Achilles tendonitis, the pain will typically appear on the back of your heel. This condition affects the Achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscles to your heel, and it usually worsens after exercise or athletics.

Heel spurs 

Evidence suggests that approximately 10% of the population has heel spurs, but not everyone shows symptoms. These bony growths, or calcium deposits, often start underneath the heel on the front of the bone. When they cause pain, it’s typically toward the front of the heel, but the pain can spread to the arch of your foot.

Stress fractures

Several things can lead to small breaks in the bones of your feet, including:

You can also get stress fractures in your feet because of osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and fragile.

Treating heel pain

Fortunately, there are several treatments for heel pain, depending on the cause of your discomfort. Dr. Jurcisin usually starts with conservative treatments, such as the following:

Dr. Jurcisin can also help you develop a strategy to avoid overuse and reinjury, especially if you’re a distance runner or heavily involved in other athletic activities.

Don’t wait to find relief for your heel pain. Book an appointment online or over the phone with Precision Footcare today.

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