Arch Pain and Heel Pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
If arch pain or heel pain makes you miserable, you want answers. And our Louetta Foot and Ankle specialists are here to help. That was the case for our patient Rev. Frieda K., who recently shared: “I visited Dr. Anum Dhukani… My visit with her was excellent. She told me what to do to have healthier feet. Albeit, the recommendation is not easy, yet worthwhile as in the long run it will help my arch support, which is needed. So again I rate my visit as excellent with Dr. Anum. She has a great bedside manner and explains things easily and thoroughly.”
We love hearing about your in-office experience. And we love offering you pain relief solutions. But we also want you to better understand the cause of your discomfort. So keep reading to learn more about common causes of heel and arch pain. Then we’ll explain how you can find lasting relief!
One of the most common causes of heel and arch pain is Plantar Fasciitis. This conditions sets in when you develop inflammation in your plantar fascia ligament. Now, the plantar fascia runs from the ball of the foot through your arch, before attaching at the bottom of the heel.
So, with each step you take, your arch lowers to absorb your body’s weight. That pulls on your plantar fascia and can leave you with heel or arch pain. Now, this pulling under your heel gets worse if you have a tight Achilles tendon.
Over time, you may develop an overuse injury, resulting in inflammation or even tearing in your plantar fascia. The result is what often feels like a stone bruise or severe pulling sensation under your heel or arch. With time, you may develop a heel spur at the spot when your ligament attaches to your heel bone.
Heel Pain Problems
Pain at the bottom of your heel is very common. After all, we also call your heel bone the Calcaneous bone. It’s the largest of 26 bones in your foot. That’s why it absorbs a great deal of pressure and shock with every step.
Now, the average person takes 5,000 to 8,000 steps per day. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that we are all susceptible to heel pain and injury. But heel pain is generally a result of faulty biomechanics that place too much stress on your heel bone and the surrounding tissues that attach to it. The result is often an overuse injury that can cause disabling pain in the bottom, sides, or back of the heel.
DIAGNOSING PLANTAR FASCIITIS
An accurate history concerning the timing and nature of heel pain is extremely helpful in arriving at the most accurate diagnosis. Most patients who suffer with plantar fascitis experience the greatest amount of pain after extended periods of inactivity or after being on their feet for prolonged periods of time. The first few steps out of bed are often excruciating until the soft tissue has had a change to stretch. Likewise, the end of a work day or standing activity can cause a great deal of fatigue and discomfort. A comprehensive exam will likely include a clinical examination to determine the point of maximal tenderness. X-rays will be obtained to determine if a heel spur or stress fracture is present. A diagnostic ultrasound exam is also very helpful in imaging the plantar fascia itself. Measurements can be obtained to determine the extent of inflammation and to rule out any ligament tear.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis and Arch Pain Caused by Heel Spurs
The good news, plantar fasciitis can be treated with success non surgically in the vast majority of cases.
1. Stretching of the calf muscles and achilles tendon greatly reduces the pulling of the plantar fascia ligament. Stretching may be achieved with a variety of exercises and /or with the use of a night splint which allows stretching while sleeping.
2. Since the problem is inflammatory, anti-inflammatory therapy is necessary to reduce symptoms. This might include ice, physical rehabilitation, oral medications or local injections.
3. The lowering of the arch must be addressed. Arch relief strapping will help temporarily, but custom orthotic insoles are the best way to provide a long term solution.