Recent decades has seen a rise in heel pain cases, typically the result of a problem called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, the tendon running from the heel to the forefoot becomes inflamed. The seven symptoms listed below can building slowly over time, or even occur suddenly.
Sharp Heel Pain – A sharp pain occuring on the inside of the heel, behind the arch of the foot, is a common sign of plantar fasciitis.
Tender Heels – The bottom heel may be sensitive to pressure.
Pain After Resting – The most common occurance of this is in the morning when first rising out of bed. When the foot is resting the plantar fascia contracts. The stretching of the fascia upon rising causes some initial pain that dissipates as the tendon becomes more limber with activity. This can also occur after periods of rest, such as sitting at a desk at work, or sitting on the couch watching television. Upon rising the pain returns.
Pain After Activities – While this may seem like the exact opposite of the above sign it makes sense with plantar fasciitis. As rest can cause the plantar fascia to tighten up, extended activity can put strain on the fascia and cause it to weaken, which results in pain.
Pain When Stretching – This symptom can be especially bad if the patient also experiences a tightened Achilles tendon. When stretching the foot and toes upward, toward the shin, know as dorsiflexion, may become painful.
Limping When Walking – It is common for a patient experiencing pain in the heel to try to favor the other foot, offloading their weight in an unusual way, resulting in a limp.
Burning Or Tingling In The Foot – While this symptom is less common it can occur when the tendon is so swollen it is compressing nearby nerves in the foot.
If you experience any of these signs then you should make an appointment with your local podiatrist for further evaluation. Plantar fasciitis is much more easily treated the sooner the patient seeks clinical intervention, and usually can be treated conservatively if caught soon after symptoms start. See this blog entry for some stretches that can help with heel pain at home.