Heel pain can essentially be placed into two categories:
a. Pain behind the heel
b. Pain under the heel
If your pain is behind the heel, you may be suffering from an overuse injury known as Achilles tendonitis. Calf muscles come together to form a cord-like structure that connects behind the heel. When this tendon becomes inflamed, due to overuse, this can cause pain and swelling in this area.
If you are experiencing pain under the heel, there are a few likely causes.
a. Plantar fasciitis
b. Fat pad atrophy
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury seen in runners and other sports like basketball and that involve jumping. It is when the broad band of tissue, under the foot, becomes inflamed. Oftentimes, the first steps after waking up are the most painful. Fat pad atrophy often occurs in the elderly. Age-related loss of padding beneath the heel causes pain when walking on hard surfaces.
There are many conservative treatments for these injuries, and they include activity modification, wearing proper footwear, ice massage, stretching, anti-inflammatories, and heel lifts. If pain persists, you should consult with an orthopaedic surgeon who subspecializes in the foot and ankle.
If you are experiencing heel pain and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Glenn Gabisan, please call (732) 530-4949.