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Why Does My Heel Hurt So Bad?

Heel pain. You know it as the aching, burning, stabbing sensation that accompanies your every step, but what’s causing it? 

You and millions of other heel pain victims want to know, and our team of experts at US Neuropathy Centers is here to explain the myriad reasons why you’re walking around with heel pain. 

Here’s everything you need to know about how we diagnose and treat your heel pain. 

A closer look at your heel

You may not realize it, but your heels take on a lot of responsibility every day. 

For example, your heels support the arches in your feet, bear your body weight, and play a crucial role in walking, running, and jumping. Your heels are also the meeting point for a variety of bones, tendons, and ligaments.

Because you rely on your heels for so much, there are many ways they can become damaged, injured, and ultimately very painful. 

Common causes of heel pain

Heel pain can stem from a wide range of injuries, irritations, and degenerative conditions. But there are a few that our patients experience most often, so here are some of the most common causes of heel pain. 

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis accounts for a majority of heel pain. In fact, of the 77% of Americans over 18 who suffer from foot and heel pain every year, 2 million of them have plantar fasciitis.

This condition occurs when a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot called the plantar fascia becomes irritated, damaged, and inflamed. The plantar fascia is integral to supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing shock when you walk, run, and jump. 

Repeated stretching, injury, or too much stress on your plantar fascia causes microtears, which result in significant pain. 

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot. The pain is often worse with your first steps in the morning or when standing after sitting for long periods of time. 

There are a few risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis, including:

Contact our experts immediately if you experience this kind of heel pain. Ignoring it can lead to chronic pain that disrupts your daily life. 

Achilles tendinitis

Second only to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It occurs when you overuse or injure your Achilles tendon. 

The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your bone and helps you walk, run, jump, and push up on your toes. This type of heel pain is common in runners and people who participate in physical activity only on the weekends. 

You know you have Achilles tendinitis if you experience a mild ache in the back of your leg or above your heel after running or doing other physical activity. You might also notice significant stiffness in the morning. 

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves that are outside of your brain and spinal cord. These are the nerves that branch out to your extremities and control your sensory perception, motor skills, and autonomic functions. 

When these nerves become damaged or irritated as a result of injury, diseases like diabetes, tumors, or infection, you experience pain, tingling, and numbness in your foot and heel. 

Arthritis

Heel pain can also come from degenerative conditions like arthritis. There are many types of arthritis that affect your heel and other bones in your body, but the most common types of arthritis in the heel are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cushioning connective tissue between your bones known as the cartilage wears down over time, leaving your bones exposed and rubbing against each other. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of a malfunction in your immune system. Your immune system attacks your normal, healthy joints, starting with the cartilage and causing serious pain. 

Treating your heel pain

No matter what’s at the source of your heel pain, we have a treatment plan for you. 

We begin with a consultation and conduct a series of physical exams and imaging tests that evaluate your reflexes, muscle tone, sensation, balance, and coordination. 

After a thorough review of your symptoms and medical history, we create your customized treatment plan. 

We start with the most conservative approach and recommend treatments like: 

If these methods aren’t successful, we offer other treatments like nerve decompression, endoscopic plantar fasciotomy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, stem cell therapy, and ultrasound-guided partial plantar fasciectomy.

When you’re ready to walk away from heel pain, contact our Marietta, Georgia, office to get started.

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