Heel and arch pain are problems that can—and most definitely do—affect individuals across all demographics. And this comes as no surprise, since each and every day we place a tremendous amount of force on our feet. In fact, this force can sometimes quadruple the total weight of our bodies, and all of this translates into tons (literally) of impact forces inflicted upon our feet in one single day.
So indeed, there is no wonder as to why there are so many possible foot conditions that could be causing your heels or arches to hurt.
But the good news is that for every painful condition affecting your heels or arches, there are treatment and preventative options available to keep your feet and ankles healthy and pain-free. And when you come to visit our Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists office, you can take comfort in knowing that you will receive an accurate diagnosis, as well as an effective treatment plan—usually using conservative methods.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of heel and arch pain. It will help you gather some understanding on what might be happening and what we can do about it.
This is the most common cause for heel and arch pain.
And though most problems associated with the plantar fascia—the band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot and supports your arch—don’t involve inflammation, the term “fasciitis” (“itis” refers to inflammation) is used to categorize sharp pain felt under the heel.
Plantar fasciitis is essentially an overuse injury. In other words, this condition is typically brought on by repeated stress or trauma over time. When your plantar fascia is damaged, the tissue is unable to expand and contract properly.
For instance, when you are at rest (asleep or sitting for a long period), the tissue becomes tight and contracted, and when you first place pressure on the foot again (as you wake up or rise from sitting), the tissue is unable to relax in order to absorb the impact. Instead, your plantar fascia will pull against the bone, which in turn causes the familiar stabbing pain under your heel.
This painful sensation usually subsides after you walk for a bit and the fascia slowly stretches. But you can likely count on it returning once you are inactive for a while. And without treatment, this pain will gradually get worse until it is unbearable and keeping you from doing the things you love.
However, there are plenty of conservative treatments available for this condition, including:
- Night splints
- Rest from activity
- Shoe modifications
- Anti-inflammatory medication
In some rare, severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage. But you can rest assured that if surgery is indeed what you need, then you are at good hands here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists.
Now, if the pain is behind your ankle just above the heel, then it is likely that you have developed an injury or inflammation of the Achilles tendon—the largest tendon in the body.
This strong band of tissue connects your heel bone to your calf muscles and moves your foot up and down, so it can also be damaged from overuse. Repetitive strain causes tiny fibers in the Achilles to fray and tear. And when these fibers break down, the body responds with inflammation and swelling in the area.
Discomfort caused by Achilles tendinitis can range from a dull, mild ache to significant pain, which can begin when performing physical activities and often worsens right after you have completed those activities. Once you’ve had time to rest, pain usually dissipates.
Other common symptoms include:
- Thickening of the tendon at the site of the injury
- Bone spurs in the area where the tendon inserts into the heel
The plantar fascia, heel bone, and Achilles tendon are a continuous unit. So problems in one area can end up affecting other parts of your foot as well. That means remedies such as stretching the calf muscles can help both situations.
But if the Achilles tendon is completely torn during an injury, it may require surgery for it to completely heal. In that case, our experts here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists are well equipped and trained to provide you with a safe and successful procedure.
Other Sources of Heel and Arch Pain
Though plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are very common among our patients experiencing heel and arch pain, the list of possible causes can be quite extensive. Some other sources that could contribute to your pain and discomfort include:
- Biomechanical deformities, such as flat feet or high arches
- Physical trauma
- Ill-fitting footwear
- Weight gain
- … and much more.
Most conditions, however, can be easily treated and corrected with a variety of conservative methods. From simply resting to quick corticosteroid injections, there is absolutely hope for you!
We Can Help You!
So don’t wait until your arch or heel pain becomes a hassle in your life. Let us help you instead.
When you come visit our office, we will conduct a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles in order to accurately diagnose your condition and provide the best treatment option available to get you back on your feet again.
All you have to do is contact us at (512) 328-8900 to schedule an appointment at our Austin, TX office (we are located in Westlake Hills). You can also take advantage of our handy request form online, and one of our trained staff members will contact you to confirm your consultation.