What causes heel pain, and how can you find relief? These questions matter. After all, if you wake up in the morning, put your feet on the floor and feel a shooting pain in your heels? You know you’re hurting, and you want to know why, right? Well, read on to find out the most common heel pain causes that I’ve seen in my Houston podiatry practice.
What Causes Heel Pain: Four Most Common Triggers
It's very important to figure out what causes heel pain. Because that information will help me bring you lasting pain relief. While this list isn't comprehensive, it does describe the four top heel pain causes.
1. Plantar Fasciitis
This condition is actually the top cause of heel pain in my office. But what is it? Well, we all have a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue that rund from our heels to the balls of our feet. And it's called the plantar fascia.
Now, this band has an important job to do. It offers support for all your movements. But, if the band is over-used or injured, it becomes inflamed and causes pain.
How would that happen? There are plenty of ways to inflame your plantar fascia. If your Achilles tendon is tight, it could tug at this band. Or, if you work out too hard or too often, problems could also develop. So, if you’re an athlete or runner, plantar fasciitis could be causing your heel pain. And the same is true if you're prone to wearing high heels or have recently put on weight. Because both moves can strain this tendon, so plantar fasciitis is a likely culprit in your heel pain.
2. Arch Height
Whether your arch is high or low, its unique shape will affect the way you walk. And that's why I suggest using my easy guide to figure out your heel height.
But just how do your arches impact your gait? Well, if you have a low arch, it can lead to pronation. (That's when your feet roll inward as you walk.) If you pronate, this can cause overstretching of the ligaments and muscles attached to your heel bone. In turn, you may develop heel pain. But, luckily, we can often correct this problem with orthotic devices that are custom cast to fit your foot.
Another thing that causes heel pain all the time in my office? Well, it's working yourself too hard! What do I mean? If you constantly force your heels to bear the brunt of your body weight’s impact, that can put tons of pressure on all your foot bones and ligaments. This often happens to runners who repeatedly log double-and-triple-digit miles each week. Because you can wear down the natural padding in your heels, causing you to experience discomfort. But pregnancy and weight gain, as well as age, can lead to this problem as well. And, no matter the cause, we can help you resolve this pain with our fat pad restoration treatment.
Remember earlier when I said a tight Achilles tendon could tug on your plantar fascia? Well, let's take a closer look at that concern right now. You see, the Achilles tendon sits in the back of your leg. It connects to your heel bone, so when it becomes inflamed, you’ll likely experience pain at the back of your heel. (Right at the point of connection between tendon and heel bone. But not on the bottom of your foot, as with the other main causes of heel pain.)
Now, Achilles tendonitis is usually considered an overuse injury. But it's different from the overuse I just talked about. Because we can usually resolve tendinitis with rest, ice, stretching, and anti-inflammatories. Some of my patients will also need to add orthotics to their shoes. But you shouldn't have to restore lost fat supplies. Unless you want to try this new treatment for many causes of heel pain.
What Causes Heel Pain? Fat Injection for Relief
A small study in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that, when plantar fasciitis causes heel pain, fat injections can help. Basically, they took belly fat and injected it into the heels of the 14 participants.
Now, just like with real estate, location matters for this injection. The researchers injected the fat near the spot where your plantar fascia meets your heel bone. And what did they find? Their inflamed plantar fascia thinned out. Afterward, they reported quality of life improvements. Plus, their waists or love handles got a little bit smoother, which was an added bonus.
Of course, this study is very early. We'd need larger studies with control groups before calling this a new heel pain treatment. Still, it's an interesting option to watch as the research comes in.
Heel Pain Podiatrist in Houston, TX
Once we know what's causing your heel pain, we'll come up with the right treatment plan to give you relief. Now, these four issues are some of the most common causes of heel pain. But they aren't the only ones by any means.
That's why I need you to look out for other culprits, like fractures or sprains, that may also manifest as heel pain. So, how can you truly figure out what causes heel pain? (And get the proper care?) Here's the best thing to do if you are experiencing frequent heel pain. Stop waiting at home and hoping it will go away on its own. Instead, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider right away. That way, we can get to the root of the problem and offer you the most effective solution.