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Heel Pain: The Causes and Treatments

One of the most common issues we see at our offices is heel pain. Luckily it is one of the easiest conditions to treat, if caught early. The truth is that most people ignore the discomfort and tell themselves it will go away on its own. Usually this is not the case. When ignored, the problem can get worse and lead to other chronic conditions that could be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment.

Plantar Fasciitis

How to Alleviate Chronic Heel PainA big contributing factor to soreness in this area is plantar fasciitis. This is when the band of tissue that connects the heel and the toes becomes inflamed as a result of overuse. If your feet feel more tender in the morning and less so throughout the day, this is the likely culprit. In fact, this type of pain in the heels can make the first steps of each day excruciating.

There’s good news—conservative treatments are often successful when this common foot condition is addressed early. Wearing shoes that offer support or using a custom-made orthotic or shoe insert should help with this problem. Prescription orthotics adjust the way you walk and fix the issue over time. Stretching exercises are often recommended as well.

Other Causes of Heel Pain

There are other reasons why you might be feeling discomfort in the back of your feet.  A stone bruise causes aching when you step too hard on something hard, such as a rock, and the soft padding on your heel is bruised. Heel spurs are a complication from letting plantar fasciitis linger for too long without treatment. Calcium deposits form and cause pain in that band of tissue.

You may also be feeling pain behind the heel, as opposed to underneath it, in the Achilles tendon area. More often than not, running in shoes that are unsupportive to the feet or that rub against the heel and cause soreness and swelling results in this condition. Ending the activity that makes the aching flare up for a period of time and investing in a good pair of running shoes may be the only treatment you need, but it is best to get your heel checked out by a podiatrist.

Diagnosis and Treatment

At your consultation in our Heel Pain Center, Dr. Mitchell Wachtel will go through a series of tests to find the exact source of your pain. These tests range from gait analysis to a diagnostic ultrasound.

Once the problem is found, treatment can begin. Sometimes addressing the issue can be as easy as resting the foot for a period of time, using an anti-inflammatory medication or cream (only if advised), or putting an orthotic device in your shoes. Laser therapy is a new way of treating heel pain that uses wavelengths of light to reduce healing time. Painless and effective, the K-Laser is making a difference in many people’s lives. If the problem has been ignored for too long the only option left might be more invasive courses of action. The Topaz method is a micro-debridement procedure that is still more conservative than actual surgery. However, sometimes operating on the foot is necessary.  We are equipped to deal with any degree of heel pain severity.

If you are suffering from heel pain dial (978) 794-8406, and schedule an appointment today at one of our three Massachusetts offices. Don’t let this very treatable problem keep you from living a full and happy life. Call or schedule an appointment online today – your feet will thank you for it.

Dr. Mitchell Wachtel
Dr. Mitchell Wachtel is a North Andover podiatrist who specializes in the treatment of the feet and ankles.