Plantar Fasciitis

What is it?

It is an inflammatory response caused by degenerative irritation at the insertion of the plantar fascia ligament—a thick band of tissue that attaches your heel bone to your toes.

These ligaments act as shock absorbers that support the arch of your foot. However, too much pressure can cause the ligaments to become inflamed—when this occurs, the inflammation often causes heel discomfort and stiffness.

This pain is most often felt when you take your first steps after getting out of bed or after extended periods of inactivity.

While most people associate it with runners, it can be diagnosed in almost anyone regardless of activity level. Increased pressure on the plantar fascia is thought to be the main cause of it. Because of this, individuals who are overweight or obese have more risk of developing the condition.

Your podiatrist will perform a physical exam to check for pain and/or tenderness in your foot. They will locate the exact location of your pain to rule out other foot conditions.

Next, your doctor may ask you to perform various stretches to test the strength and health of the plantar fascia ligaments. If the physical exam is not enough to diagnose the cause of your heel discomfort, your doctor may order X-rays of your foot to verify no stress fracture or other issue is causing the pain.

Initial treatment usually involves conservative approaches such as rest, ice, and avoidance of certain exercises.

Other conservative treatment methods include:

  • Orthotics/padding: Custom orthotics – Heel pads may be used to cushion the foot and prevent pain.
  • Stretches – Various stretches can be performed to elongate the plantar fascia ligament and relieve pain.
  • Night splint – Your doctor may recommend a night splint to hold your foot at a specific angle to prevent ligaments from contracting during sleep.
  • Injections – Anti-inflammatory steroid injections may be used to relieve inflammation and prevent pain.

More severe cases of plantar fasciitis might require surgery. The most common surgical procedure is known as a plantar fascia release, where the surgeon releases a portion of the plantar fascia ligament from the heel bone to relieve tension and pain.

Surgery is often seen as the last result after conservative approaches have failed.

Our foot doctors can help you find relief. Schedule a consultation with Foot & Ankle Centers today.

Heel Spur

What is it?

It is a calcium deposit located underneath the heel that causes small pieces of bone to protrude. Pain associated with heel spurs is often confused with another condition called plantar fasciitis—which refers to inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament.

It is a piece of bone that forms on the heel bone itself. In most cases, it does not cause any symptoms. There are cases where heel spurs are associated with intermittent or chronic pain.

However, it is not necessarily the root of the pain. Instead, the pain is attributed to the inflammation or irritation of the plantar fascia ligament. Pain is usually worse in the morning when you wake up, but it recedes as ligaments loosen.

It takes months to develop and may go completely unnoticed. Heel spurs are most often a result of too much stress or pressure on the ligaments in the foot. They can also result from repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone.

Other significant factors that contribute to the development of it include:

  • Mechanical defects that cause gait abnormalities
  • Tight calf muscles that limit ankle flexibility
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poorly shoe choice
  • Activities that demand extended time on your feet

Heel spurs cannot be diagnosed through a physical exam — they can only be seen using an X-ray. In fact, many heel spurs are diagnosed based on images your doctor takes while looking for something else.

You should contact your podiatrist when the pain persists for over a month. They may recommend the following non-invasive treatment methods:

  • Various stretching exercises
  • Shoe replacement
  • Custom orthotics
  • Padding
  • Physical therapy

Most heel pain treatment can be performed with conservative methods, but anti-inflammatory medications or injections may also be recommended. These medications not only reduce pain but inflammation too.

Haglund’s Deformity

What is it?

Also known as the “pump bump”, it is a condition that causes the bony section of your heel—where the Achilles tendon is—to become enlarged or inflamed.

Wearing shoes that put too much pressure on the back of the heel, which causes inflammation, most often causes it.

If left untreated, this condition can lead to bursitis—an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that separates the tendon from the bone.

When the heel becomes inflamed, it can calcify the heel bone and cause the bump to become more prominent. When this happens, pain becomes more noticeable, and basic foot function could be affected.

As its other name, “pump bump,” implies, the rigid backs of “pump-style” shoes usually cause it. These shoes create pressure that aggravates growth during normal activities, like walking.

In addition to poor shoe choice, these factors can also contribute to the formation of pump bumps:

  • Having a high-arched foot
  • Having a tight Achilles tendon
  • Poor walking mechanics

Most cases are very painful—especially in the area where the growth is located on the heel. Other common symptoms of it include:

  • Noticeable bump on the back of the heel
  • Severe pain in the heel
  • Swelling in the heel
  • Redness or tenderness near the inflamed area

Because its symptoms are so similar to those of other common foot conditions—like arthritis—it can be difficult to diagnose. Your foot doctor may be able to diagnose this condition based on the appearance of your heel—although some cases require further diagnostic and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating this foot condition involves relieving pressure from the heel bone. This can be accomplished surgically or non-surgically—the heel discomfort treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms.

For mild to moderate conditions, the following non-surgical treatments may be performed:

  • Shoe changes
  • NSAID pain-relievers
  • Soft-tissue massage
  • Custom molded orthotics
  • Heel pads or cushions
  • Anti-inflammatory injections

If non-surgical options are ineffective, our heel pain doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to relieve pressure from the heel bone. It can be done by removing excess bone from the heel or smoothing existing bone.

These procedures effectively relieve pressure from the bone and surrounding soft tissues.

Our foot doctors can help you.

Make an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation with Foot & Ankle Centers today!

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