About four months ago my heel started hurting so bad when I first stood up in the morning that it would cause a limp for a minute or two. Now, sometimes the pain lasts all day. It is always near the heel … but not always in exactly the same part of the heel. Occasionally the same pain is also at the ball of the same foot where the center toes are attached. Are these symptoms of arthritis?
— Jennifer Leavitt
The most common reason for heel pain in adults is plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis usually occurs from a minor strain or overuse of the plantar fascia, which usually starts as a fairly mild condition and progressively worsens as the inflammation increases. The condition is commonly very painful in the morning or when rising after sitting for any extended periods of time, but can become chronically painful and hurt all day. The pain is localized in the heel, but can extend to the arch as well. The pain in the ball of your foot may be related to the plantar fasciitis if you’re compensating for heel pain by walking differently, or it could be a separate condition.
Treatments for plantar fasciitis are the same as other inflammatory conditions. Ways to reduce the inflammation to your heel are to apply ice to the area, take anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication, like Motrin or ibuprofen, or steroid injections. Stretching, splints or physical therapy is often necessary to reduce the tightness of the fascia or Achilles’ tendon. Arch supports or supportive shoes are also helpful in supporting the fascia. Most fasciitis conditions can be resolved with non-surgical treatments, but resistant cases sometimes require surgical treatment.
Most cases of plantar fasciitis are unrelated to arthritis, which is an inflammatory or degenerative condition of joints.
Please contact your foot specialist if you have additional questions or need medical treatment.
— Dr. Randal Wraalstad, DPM, St. Luke’s Clinic, Orthopedics and Podiatry
Disclaimer: The content of this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not stop or delay seeking treatment because of something you read in this article. Further, the views or opinions expressed in this article are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily represent those of St. Luke’s. Reliance on any information provided by St. Luke’s, St. Luke’s employees or others supplying information for the column at the invitation of St. Luke’s is solely at your own risk.
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