Cause of Heel Pain
The heel is one of the most important parts of the human body as it carries all our weight and provides us support as well. Due to the pressure this part forces, it is also often the victim of pain. There are many causes of heel pain and some are explained below in detail.
Peripheral neuropathy is a leading cause of pain in the heel, toes, feet, and other extremities, and is the result of nerve damage, usually from high glucose levels in the bloodstream. Over time, the elevated blood sugar levels cause nerve damage and resulting pain in the whole foot.
There are many disorders which result in autoimmune responses, with rheumatoid arthritis being among the top culprits. Rheumatoid arthritis happens when your body’s immune system begins to attack healthy tissues, most often joint, but also other parts of the body including the feet. This disorder is not curable but can be controlled with therapy and medication.
An increasingly common affliction of the heel is heel spurs. These are a growth of calcium on the bottom of the heel. These growths extend from the heel toward the front of the foot by ½ inch or more and can make walking very painful, although many people have them and don’t even know it. Another ailment of the lower foot and heel is plantar fasciitis, which is associated with heel spurs because the spur can initiate plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendon that goes along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the ball.
Interestingly, it has been shown that a heel spur is usually the result of plantar fasciitis and not usually a cause of heel pain. The reason we know this is studies looking at heel spur removal have shown a suboptimal result.
Stress Fractures and Bone Issues
These are most commonly found in runners or people that engage in high-impact movements which affect the feet. These small, hairline fractures, also found in people with osteoporosis, can be very painful and can be treated by halting or slowing down the exercise or activity that is causing them.
Osteoporosis falls into the category of heel pain causes because it is a disease that weakens and deteriorates bones, in this case, the bones of the lower foot and heel. Closely related to fractures and osteoporosis is osteomyelitis, an infection within the bone that can be caused by bacteria within the bone or within the surrounding tissue and traveling to the bone. Osteomyelitis is often related to diabetes, because people with diabetes often have foot ulcers which allow a pathway for germs and bacteria to travel into the foot and thereafter into the bone itself.
Tendinitis, especially Achilles tendinitis, is the inflammation of a tendon. Tendons connect muscle to bone and can become irritated with overuse. Tendinitis can occur in any tendon, but happens most often in elbows, shoulders, and heels, especially with the Achilles tendinitis variety. Rest will often cure this condition, but surgery may be required if the inflamed tendon ruptures. Closely related to both of those diseases is retroclcaneal bursitis, a swelling of the back side of the heel.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
An ailment closely related to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, due to overuse of the keyboard and mouse, is tarsal tunnel syndrome, a pinching of the nerve at the back of the foot. This can cause great pain in the heel, similar to Achilles tendinitis, and makes walking very difficult.
Heels are a complicated part of a complicated limb, and they can develop problems through a large variety of causes. To be able to have a ‘healthy’ heel it is important to wear the right shoes so that there is no extra pressure on the heel. A lot of the abovementioned causes are due to the poor use of heel (putting lot of pressure, keeping it in wrong position etc.). If you have any such problem, it is recommended to visit a San Diego foot specialist and get treated as soon as possible.
Top heel pain treatment in San Diego is at Pacific Medical Care. Surgery for heel pain is typically not necessary with the customized treatment options available. These may include injections, orthotics, medications and more. Call us today to see our San Diego foot and ankle specialists.