Heel pain is one of the more common types of foot pain, especially among athletes and very active people, as well as among older men and women. At Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine, we help men and women relieve heel pain and related symptoms with custom orthotics, which are special shoe inserts designed to provide optimal support for your foot. As their name implies, custom orthotics are made on a case-by-case basis, which means we can create your orthotics to correct the specific problems that are causing your painful symptoms.
Lots of problems can cause or contribute to heel pain, but most painful symptoms are related to pressure on the heel or wear and tear on the ligaments and tendons that support the heel and the arch of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, especially among older patients and athletes. The plantar fascia is a strong band of connective tissue that extends along the bottom of your foot, providing support for your arch and the midfoot region. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this fibrous band becomes irritated and inflamed, and tiny tears form throughout the tissue as a result of prolonged wear and tear. Not surprisingly, plantar fasciitis is relatively common among athletes whose feet are subjected to a lot of impacts (like runners), and it’s also very common among older men and women. Plantar fasciitis pain can occur any time, but it’s much more common in the morning and after you’ve been sitting still for a long time. Once you start to move around, the plantar fascia “warms up” and becomes more flexible, reducing the amount of pain you’ll feel.
Another relatively common cause of heel pain, heel spurs are small bony growths that form along the edge and underside of your heel bone. Spurs form when calcium builds up in localized areas, creating hard deposits that cause a lot of pain when weight or pressure is placed on them. Heel spurs can occur on their own, and they can also occur with plantar fasciitis, increasing pain along the bottom of your heel. Heel spurs can sometimes be viewed on an X-ray, and in some cases, they’re so large that you can feel the spur simply by pressing on the area.
Like heel spurs, Haglund’s deformity is a hard lump or bump that forms on your heel — specifically, the back portion of your heel. The lump forms as a result of continual pressure on the area, typically caused by shoes with very stiff backs that rub and irritate the tissue and the bone. Haglund’s deformity is sometimes accompanied by heel bursitis, a painful inflammation of the bursa, which are tiny sacs of fluid that provide a cushion between your bones and your soft tissues.
Custom orthotics can be especially successful in reducing heel pain and related symptoms, like inflammation and irritation. Because they’re made on an individual basis, your orthotics can be created to reduce pressure points on and around your heel, while also providing ample support for the rest of the foot.
At Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine, we use a special process to measure for custom orthotics to ensure the final product is optimally designed for your symptoms, your anatomy, and your comfort. Depending on your needs, our team uses special molds, flexible foam, and laser technology to obtain the most accurate measurements. Those measurements are sent to a lab facility that specializes in creating orthotics that are both durable and comfortable.
Orthotics help “retrain” your foot and lower leg muscles to provide support without causing painful pressure points. That means the more you wear your orthotics, the more effective they’ll be in relieving your symptoms.
Don’t let heel pain interfere with your routines and activities. Custom orthotics could be just what you need to eliminate pain and restore normal mobility. To learn more about custom orthotics or to schedule a consultation, contact the practice today.