Plantar Fasciitis / Heel Pain

Heel pain, caused by plantar fasciitis is a condition that may also be referred to as heel spur syndrome, if a spur is present. Plantar fasciitis is initiated by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that extends from the toes to the heel. The inflammation of this band is caused by irritation and results in foot and heel pain.Plantar fasciitis is not the only cause of heel pain. Heel pains can be caused for multiple reasons, such as a tendonitis, arthritis, stress fractures, a cyst or nerve irritation. Heel pain should only be diagnosed by a podiatrist or other doctor due to the many different potential causes. A podiatrist is the best suited doctor to accurately diagnose your case and determine what your best options are.

Picture of Plantar Fasciitis

colorado foot institute heel pain / heel spurs

Heel Pain Causes

Symptoms include pain in the bottom of the heel that arises more often as you wake up or stand up after being in the same position for extended periods of time or pain that increases in the area over the span of a few months. Patients affected by plantar fasciitis often have worse pain in the morning, but walking generally alleviates the pain in heel of foot. Although walking will lessen the pain at first, some patients begin to experience more pain the longer they are on their feet, generally after standing for more than a few hours. Plantar fasciitis is most common in people who are either flat footed or have high arches, these faulty structures of the foot place more pressure on the tendon connecting the heel to the toes and produced irritation that leads to plantar fasciitis. Other causes of plantar fasciitis include the wearing of non-supportive shoes on flat hard surfaces; this places excess strain on the plantar fascia, standing for long periods of time and obesity. Note that plantar fasciitis or severe heel pain resulting from obesity are not to be confused with Achilles heel pain; an altogether separate condition.

Heel Pain Treatment

Often times advanced imaging (US, MRI, CT), x-rays and bone scans are used to discover the exact cause of the pain in heel. This process ensures that the pain is not caused a bone spur in the heel.  Heel spur pain is not common but it can cause similar pain and have the same symptoms of plantar fasciitis. There are various ways to achieve heel pain relief, and they are determined by the cause of the pain. If the pain is caused by a bone spur then the condition is diagnosed as being plantar fasciitis heel spur syndrome. These tests will also allow the doctor to see if it is any other cause than plantar fasciitis. Treatment options vary and are generally done in phases. The doctor will typically first suggest stretching exercises, placing ice packs on the heel several times a day to reduce inflammation, exercise the calf muscle to reduce stress placed on the plantar fascia, wearing supportive shoes at all times, and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. If the pain in the heel is caused by obesity often times the loss of weight is suggested to take pressure off the heel.

If this does not help with the pain over time one of the following approaches may be taken by your podiatrist; orthotic devices to add padding, support or straps that help support the foot correctly and correct abnormalities in the foot that can cause plantar fasciitis, In some cases injection therapy is used, this is the use of corticosteroid injections which relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Other options are removable walking casts, night splints and physical therapy.

In most cases surgery is not needed but if these other treatment options had little to no effect surgery may be the only option. This option is normally not used unless the other treatments do not work for some months, but if it is the only option it is important to discuss the different surgical options with a podiatrist to see which option is most beneficial for your heel pain.

No matter what measures are taken to treat plantar fasciitis the patient must keep taking precautions so the symptoms do not return. This includes losing weight and wearing the correct supportive shoes at all times.

Let Us Help You

As Director of the Colorado Foot Institute,Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate Residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery and a twenty-four month surgical Fellowship training program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery. With his expertise in foot care, Dr. Mechanik can help you treat your condition, that inhibits your mobility or daily activities. He and his family are natives of the Denver area. You can schedule an appointment by calling our office at 303-333-3383.