If you feel a pain in your heel and you think you haven’t done anything recently to hurt it, you might assume that it’s a heel spur. This is a mistake that could possibly prevent you from getting the right treatment for your heel.
The first thing you should know is that heel spurs don’t always cause discomfort; in fact, only 50% of people with this condition claim that it gives them pain. In cases where they do, the pain often recedes on its own, obviating the need for treatment.
Heel spurs can go undetected for a long time; some people discover theirs only as an incidental finding on X-rays taken for other conditions. However, the one time when they’re considered problematic is when you actually feel them under the skin.
Heel pain can be caused by a number of things, whether they’re problems with the bones, the tendons, or the ligaments. The following are just a few possible explanations for your pain.
1. Excessive wear on your feet: if you frequently run long distances, tread heavily, or walk while carrying heavy items like weights, this can lead to inflammation of the fascia, which are ligaments in the heel. In other words, you may have plantar fasciitis, a condition most commonly found in athletes. Excessive wear can also result in Achilles tendinitis, or inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
2. Impact injuries: if you’ve fallen from a great height, the impact may have fractured your heel. If this is the case, you should be able to see bruises on either the fat pads on the bottom of your feet or on the ball of your foot.
3. Excessive running and jumping: these and other strenuous activities can inflame the ball of your foot.
4. Wearing high heels: this is a major cause of Morton’s neuroma because the bones of the toes press hard against the nerves between the toes, causing the nerves to become inflamed. Symptoms include shooting pains as well as a numb or tingly feeling in the ball of the foot.
5. Arch pain: also known as “start-up pain” because it often hurts most after long periods of inactivity, for example after waking up. This kind of strain may be another indicator, along with your heel pain, that you have plantar fasciitis.
6. Miscellaneous causes: your pain may be the result of arthritis, which usually inflames the middle part of the foot and the big toe joint. If your pain is concentrated on your toes, it could be anything from hammertoe to ingrown toenails. A bump beside your big toe could most likely be a bunion.
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