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Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)

Heel pain is usually caused by damage to the band of tissue in the foot, known as the plantar fascia. The pain usually becomes worse over a period of time, and usually affects only one heel. Most people experience more pain when they get up in the morning, or when they’ve been resting.

What causes heel pain?

Heel pain is usually caused by damage to the tough, flexible plantar fascia tissue that runs under the sole, connecting the heel bone to the bones of the foot and acting as a shock absorber.

Damage includes tiny tears inside the tissue, which makes it thicken, causing the pain. The tissue around the plantar fascia can also become inflamed. Other causes of heel pain include gradual wear and tear, including osteoarthritis in the sub-talar joint, as well as stress fractures of the heel bone (calcaneus).

You are more likely to have heel pain if you:

  • Are aged 40-60
  • Are overweight
  • Have a job that involves lots of standing
  • Regularly wear flat shoes
  • Run or walk for long distances on hard surfaces
  • Have reduced calf and hamstring length, or restricted ankle joint movement

How is heel pain diagnosed?

During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. In most cases, heel pain can be diagnosed without having any further diagnostic tests. However, in some cases you may be offered X-rays, an MRI scan or an ultrasound scan.

What does treatment involve?

In some cases, heel pain will go away without any treatment if you are able to rest your heel and carry out some simple stretches, along with wearing shoes that support and cushion your feet (running shoes are ideal).

However, if the pain continues, applying an ice pack can help to ease the symptoms. You may also be advised to take anti-inflammatory painkillers and to follow a course of physiotherapy.

Some people find that wearing splints at night can help improve their symptoms. Full recovery from plantar fasciitis can take 12-18 months. However, if your symptoms don’t improve Mr Heidari may advise that you have surgery to release the Achilles tendon.

This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.