Does Your Heel Hurt?

Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present. Heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, arthritis, nerve irritation, or related to other underlying common conditions like tendonitis.

Because there are several potential causes, it is important to have heel pain properly diagnosed. A foot and ankle surgeon is able to distinguish and determine the underlying source of your heel pain.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain.

What Is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is a common condition that occurs when the large tendon that runs down the back of your lower leg becomes irritated and inflamed. Although it can withstand great stresses it is prone to tendonitis, a condition associated with overuse and degeneration.

Causes
The most common cause relates to faulty structure or alignment of the foot, ankle, or leg.

Symptoms Plantar fasciitis:

Achilles tendonitis:

Diagnosis
To arrive at a diagnosis, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your medical history and examine your lower extremity. Throughout this process the surgeon rules out all the possible causes for your heel pain. In addition, diagnostic imaging studies, such as x-rays, may be used to distinguish the different types of heel pain. Sometimes heel spurs are found in patients with plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon issues and may or may not contribute to these issues.

Causes
The most common cause relates to faulty structure or alignment of the foot, ankle, or leg.

Symptoms Plantar fasciitis:

Diagnosis
To arrive at a diagnosis, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your medical history and examine your lower extremity. Throughout this process the surgeon rules out all the possible causes for your heel pain. In addition, diagnostic imaging studies, such as x-rays, may be used to distinguish the different types of heel pain. Sometimes heel spurs are found in patients with plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon issues and may or may not contribute to these issues.

Author
Joshua A. Sebag, D.P.M. Dr. Joshua Sebag, DPM, earned his medical degree from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was accepted into the National Honor Society. He then returned to his home state of Florida where he completed an extensive three-year foot and ankle reconstructive surgical residency program at AdventHealth East Orlando, serving as chief resident his final year. He frequently participates in research specific to the foot, ankle, and lower leg and has been the recipient of multiple awards, including first place recognition by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Sebag is a diplomate of the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and is board qualified in foot surgery. He holds additional board qualification in reconstructive rearfoot & ankle surgery and is a member of the Florida Podiatric Medical Association, the American Podiatric Medical Association, and the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

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