Heel pain is as common as it is frustrating, and while plantar fasciitis often steals the spotlight, other sources of chronic aches can be just as limiting. Good thing the team at Podiatry Center of New Jersey has experience with a wide variety of conditions, from typical troubles to some of the most outlandish ailments out there.
For this blog post, we decided to use that experience and shed some light on three lesser-known yet prevalent forms of heel pain. We’ll demystify their distinctive characteristics and then cover some effective treatment options.
1) Achilles Tendonitis:
- Overuse, tight calves, or sudden increases in activity can inflame the Achilles tendon, the band connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. Heel pain worsens with activity, especially uphill walking or running. A burning sensation or stiffness around the back of your ankle may accompany the pain.
- Rest, ice, stretching, and anti-inflammatory medications are the first line of defense. Physical therapy strengthens the tendon and surrounding muscles, preventing future flare-ups. In severe cases, corticosteroid injections can be used to control pain and inflammation.
2) Calcaneal Stress Fractures:
- Think micro-cracks, not full breaks. Repetitive stress from activities like long-distance running, high-impact sports, or even wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause tiny fractures in the heel bone. Pain may be gradual and dull, often worsening with weight bearing and improving with rest. Look out for localized tenderness and possible swelling around the heel.
- Offloading weight with a walking boot or crutches is crucial. Physical therapy or over-the-counter medications can help manage discomfort.
3) Fat Pad Atrophy:
- The fat pad under your heel isn’t immune to age and wear and tear. Its thinning can lead to pain, particularly on hard surfaces and during prolonged standing. Standing barefoot on hard surfaces often amplifies the discomfort.
- Supportive footwear with shock-absorbing soles can be effective. Inserts or custom orthotics can provide additional cushioning.
At the Podiatry Center of New Jersey, our team of doctors treats various conditions such as sports injuries, diabetic foot problems, pediatric foot conditions, toe deformities, arthritis, nail fungus, arch problems, and heel pain. Our 16 conveniently located offices provide individualized, high-quality care for patients across Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Ocean, Passaic, and Union Counties. Contact our Wayne, NJ office at (973) 925-4111 for an appointment!