Heel PainSharp pain, aching of stiffness on the bottom of one or both heels is a very common ailment. Adults develop the problem most frequently, although children, too, can be affected if the growing bone becomes irritated.

Causes of Heel Pain 

Heel pain originated deep within the foot, directly on the heel bone or within the foot's connective tissues, called the fascia. Several layers of fatty tissue surround the heel bone, softening the impact or walking and running and protecting the bones and muscles of the foot. Beneath this padding, a fibrous band of connective tissue (the fascia) extends from the heel bone, supports the arch and reached across to the toes. Pain can result when these tissues become irritated or inflamed, or when small spurs grow on the heel bone.

Inflammation

Most cases of heel pain are characterized by inflammation. First, the fascia begins to pull on the bone and the tissues become irritated, then inflamed. Inflammation of the fascia is called fascitis.

Heel Spurs 

A projection or growth of bone may be called a spur, and can grow where the muscles of the foot attach to the bone. While some heel spurs are painless, others that are determined to be the cause of chronic heel pain may require medical treatment or surgical removal.

Other Causes 

While injury, overuse or other temporary, mechanical causes can bring on discomfort in the heel, a painful heel may also accompany a more serious condition, such as: Gout, Arthritis, Psoriasis, Collagen disorders, Nerve injuries, Heel bone abnormalities, or tumors.

Illnesses like these and other must be diagnosed and treated separately. Your podiatric surgeon may refer you to a local specialist if the problems are beyond his or her area of expertise.

Treatment of Heel Pain 

In most cases, heel pain can be relieved without surgery. Treatment may include self-care, medications, therapy or orthotics. If nonsurgical medical treatments fail and pain persists, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Both surgical procedures described below are usually completed on an outpatient basis in less than one hour. They are performed comfortably under either local anesthesia or minimal sedation administered by trained personnel.

Removal of Connective Tissue (Fascia) 

During surgery to separate all or a portion of the fascial tissue from the heel bone, the podiatric surgeon will make a small incision on the inside of the heel. Then, the tissue is carefully cut away. A few stitches will be required.

Bone Spur Removal 

Heel spurs may be removed during the same operation for separating the connective tissue from the heel bone. After the tissue has been detached, the podiatric surgeon will remove any spurs, leaving the heel bone smooth.

Provided there are no complications, recovery is usually complete in six to eight weeks. Normal daily activities can be gradually resumed as soon as pain subsides or when recommended by the podiatric surgeon. Unfortunately, prevention is not always possible. If pain is related to too much activity or an abnormal foot structure (such as flat feet or high arches), modifying the daily routine to exclude activities that are stressful on the feet, should be replaced with biking and/or swimming. If symptoms of heel pain develop, icing the foot should begin immediately.

While these are some of the most commonly prescribed treatments for heel disorders, other may be used. The podiatric surgeon will determine which treatment is likely to be the most successful in each case.

Ask your physician about surgical procedures to correct heel pain at Lourdes.

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