Severe pain in the heel is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that runs from the base of the toes, through the arch and connects to the heel.
The most common causes of plantar fasciitis (also referred to as heel spur syndrome) are:
- Over pronation
- Flat feet
- High arches
- Being overweight
- Ill-fitting footwear
- Standing/walking for long periods of time on hard surfaces.
- Playing sports
The most common of these is over pronation, where the foot rolls inward, which lengthens and adds tension to the plantar fascia.
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis generally include foot pain in the morning, which lessens after a few steps, and pain that gradually worsens as the day goes on.
If left unchecked, a bone growth may occur, which is known as a heel spur. Heel spurs are not the source of pain, but can result from the condition.
Initial treatment for plantar fasciitis is conservative, including anti-inflammatory prescriptions, icing, stretching exercises, foot braces, ibuprofen, orthotics, and physical therapy. In more persistent conditions, surgery may be needed; this only happens in about 2% of cases in Dr. Gauntt’s office.
Diagnosis is made by history, clinical exam and X-ray. Diagnostic ultrasound is often used to evaluate the plantar fascia itself.
Dr. Gauntt specializes in healing plantar fasciitis. In-depth resources to help you resolve your plantar fasciitis quickly and successfully are here: Everything You Need to Know About Heel Pain