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Heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis

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Description

Many patients complain of pain in the bottom of the heel. Usually this is caused by heel spurs or plantar fasciitis. Both are the result of small changes in the foot’s structure.

A heel spur is a bony growth of the heel bone. Heel spurs on the sole of the foot can cause pain or tenderness. They can also irritate the thick band of tissue (plantar fascia) that runs across the bottom of each foot. This is called plantar fasciitis.


Causes and symptoms

Activities that stress the heel and/or tighten the calf muscles can make you prone to heel pain. These include running, aerobics and walking a lot. Heel problems are also common in people who are overweight or whose job requires being on the feet a lot.

Symptoms include:

  • Heel pain and tenderness, usually worse after getting up in the morning 
  • Pain in the heel after long periods of standing or exercise
  • Pain in the arch of the affected foot
  • Tight calf muscles

Treatment

There are a number of home treatments for treating heel pain and plantar fasciitis:

  • Stretching the calf muscles regularly, especially after exercising 
  • Wearing supportive shoes or over-the-counter arch supports
  • Limiting or stopping the activities that make the pain worse
  • Taking medications like ibuprofen

If problems continue, your doctor may suggest:

  • Cortisone shots
  • Night splints to stretch the calf muscles while sleeping
  • Taping the foot to support the arch
  • Prescription shoe inserts (orthotics)
  • Surgery
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