Heel pain is one of the most common complaints in podiatric medicine. It is
also known as heel spur or plantar fasciitis. In most cases, the pain is caused by
the inflammatory condition known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is caused by an
inflamed plantar fascia (fibrous tissue on the
bottom of the feet).
Plantar fascia is attached to the heel bone and fans forward inserting into the ball of the foot. The main function of the plantar fascia is to support the arch of the foot when walking. The problem usually occurs when there is abnormal motion or stress resulting in the breakage of the fibres. This will result in pain and swelling.
With the pulling of the plantar fascia on the heel bone, development of the heel
spur is common. The spur doesn’t cause pain, but overstretching, swelling and the
degeneration of collagen fibres at the insertion point
(heel bone) can.
Anyone can suffer from plantar fasciitis, but the most common causes are related to faulty foot biomechanics (flat feet or high arched feet), inflexibility in the
calf muscle, poor footwear, arthritis, diabetes, irritation or repetitive micro trauma to the heel tissue, etc. Symptoms usually resolve much quicker if the treatment is offered as soon as possible preventing further damage to the tissue.
Heel Pain/Plantar Fascitis
What are the signs and symptoms?
• Heel pain is usually worse first
thing in the morning or after
sitting for a long time
• Sharp pain tenderness on the
sole and heel when standing,
• Presence of mild swelling
Before starting treatment,
a proper assessment by a chiropodist/podiatrist or family physician is required. Other conditions such as bursitis, pinched nerve, or tendonitis have similar signs and symptoms. There are
various treatments available for this condition,
ranging from stretching and wearing proper footwear with custom orthotics to
ultrasound treatment, night
splints, low-level laser therapy, corticosteroid injections
and extracorporeal shock
To prevent plantar fasciitis, wear good supportive shoes, don’t go barefoot and avoid activities that put a lot of stress on your feet.