heel

Heel Pain Treatment

Dr. Kathren D. McCarty, former chief resident of the Orthopedics Dept./Podiatry division at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio is an expert at assisting patients with heel pain in San Antonio, TX.

Prior to joining Sports Occupational & Knee Surgery in 2008, she performed over 2000 podiatry procedures. As a respected and experienced podiatrist that can effectively diagnose and treat your needs whether it is ankle and joint pain, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, toenail fungus, or other foot and ankle ailments; Dr. McCarty strives to deliver quality podiatry care to informed patients in our comfortable and convenient offices.

Dr. Kathren McCarty combines knowledgeable and honest care with the most advanced technology in the Greater San Antonio region to treat patients with Heel pain in San Antonio, TX. Healthy, happy feet are only a click or call away.

A healthy and happy body is only a click or call away. Call Sports, Occupational, and Knee Surgery today for a heel pain relief appointment at (210) 696-9000 at either our San Antonio or Shertz location.

What are the causes of heel pain?

The heel is the largest bone in the foot. Overuse or injury can lead to heel pain. The most common causes of heel pain are plantar fasciitis on the bottom of the heel and Achilles tendinitis on the back of the heel. But there can be many causes behind heel pain:

  • Plantar fasciitis — Plantar fasciitis occurs when too much pressure on your feet damages the plantar fascia ligament, causing pain and stiffness.
  • Heel spurs — These are bony growths on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs result from repeated strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot.
  • Bone bruises — This is inflammation of the tissues that cover the heel bone, caused by the direct impact of a hard object or surface on the foot.
  • Sprains and strains — These are injuries to bones and tissues in the heel area, usually from physical activity.
  • Fractures — A fracture is a broken bone in your foot.
  • Achilles tendinitis — Overuse can cause your tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the heel to become inflamed and painful.
  • Bursitis — If the bursae in your foot joints become inflamed, they will affect nearby tendons, skin, and muscle tissues.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis — This form of arthritis primarily affects your spine, and if the correct vertebrae are inflamed this can lead to foot and heel pain.
  • Reactive arthritis — An infection in the body triggers this type of arthritis.
  • Haglund deformity — A prominence of the calcaneus (heel bone) that can cause bursa inflammation between the calcaneus and the Achilles tendon.

What common injuries are associated with heel pain?

  • Plantar fasciitis can develop from wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces. This puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia. If your job entails long hours spent on your feet, plantar fasciitis can be a result.
  • Excessive pronation can lead to heel pain. Pronation is the normal flexible motion and flattening of the arch of the foot that allows it to adapt to ground surfaces and absorb shock in the normal walking pattern. Abnormal pronation — excessive inward motion — can create an abnormal amount of stretching and pulling on the ligaments and tendons attaching to the bottom back of the heel bone.
  • Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon as it runs behind the ankle and inserts on the back surface of the heel bone. People who run or walk a lot and have tight tendons can develop Achilles tendinitis. Over time, this can lead to the possible growth of a bone spur.
  • Bruises that arise from walking, running or jumping can lead to heel pain. This can linger if your actions continue to place stress on the same areas that were initially bruised.
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit well or are of poor quality can place stress on your heel, often in the form of bursitis. Over time, these kinds of stresses can cause bone spurs and other deformities.
  • Being overweight places the most stress on the heels during walking, running, or jumping. Over time, the repeated extra forces and stresses involved can cause the injury that shows itself in heel pain.

How are heel injuries and pain diagnosed?

Location of the pain leads Dr. McCarty’s diagnosis of your heel pain. She will check your overall foot and heel for areas of tenderness that indicate inflammation. To rule out issues such as bone fractures, she may use diagnostic x-rays. When examining your heel, if she notices the heel aponeurosis is greater than 5 mm, this can be suggestive of plantar fasciitis. Stress fractures of the calcaneus won’t usually show up on an x-ray but will on an MRI. Bursitis will show itself with swelling between the calcaneus and the Achilles tendon. Bone spur development at the insertion site of the Achilles tendon indicates Achilles tendinopathy.

Doctor giving a heel diagnosis of the foot

What are the risks of ignoring heel pain and not treating it?

Many cases of heel pain can be due to plantar fasciitis, but patients often ignore it thinking they’ll just tough it out and the pain will improve. But this is a risky strategy. If left untreated plantar fasciitis can lead to…

  • Plantar tears — Over time, if plantar fasciitis is untreated, the inflammation and stress to the plantar fascia can result in small tears in the fascia. You may not notice when these occur, but you will notice how your pain worsens. Allowing this to continue opens the door to rupture of the plantar fascia.
  • Plantar rupture — If a person has plantar fasciitis but continues to participate in activities that place a great deal of impact on the plantar fascia, he or she may hear a loud popping sound. This will be followed by intense pain, bruising, and swelling in the foot. The plantar fascia has ruptured. Now you’ll likely need to wear a boot or be on crutches for a good deal of time to let the plantar fascia heal.
  • Plantar fibromatosis — In this condition, untreated plantar fasciitis leads to the formation of benign, slow-growing nodules along the plantar fascia. These can grow slowly, and then have a sudden burst of rapid growth. As they grow, these nodules will make walking more and more painful. Some research points to a tear in the fascia that is left untreated as a trigger for plantar fibromatosis.
  • Heel spurs — The development of heel spurs is one of the most common consequences of leaving plantar fasciitis untreated. In an attempt to protect the arch of your foot and mitigate damage, your body sends cells to the site of the problem. These cells begin depositing calcium. Over time, these calcium deposits can build up into sharp protrusions that dig into the fatty pad of the heel and cause pain with every step.

Heel pain that doesn’t resolve relatively quickly needs to be checked out by Dr. McCarty. As a foot and ankle specialist who is board certified in foot surgery, along with advanced reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, she can get to the bottom of your heel pain and get you back on your feet, without the pain.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you’re interested in learning more about heel pain treatment please contact us for a consultation at (210) 696-9000 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.