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What Causes Discomfort in the Heel?

heel discomfort

By Misha Gilani, DPT and Xavier Thompson, ATC

We spend a lot of time on our feet so it’s no wonder foot and ankle pain, discomfort in the heel and arches are common problems for every age group. We treat this often at Loudoun Sports Therapy. Foot and ankle problems make daily, functional activities such as standing, walking and using stairs difficult. The most frequent complaint we see in the clinic is pain at the ankle joint that can radiate up into the leg or down into the heel. In addition to the daily functions mentioned above, it can also mean they have trouble going from a seated position to a standing one without pain. Even taking just a few steps can be painful due to muscle tightness and joint stiffness.

Once particular foot condition we treat is plantar fasciitis. To start, what is your plantar fascia?

  • A thick band of connective tissue that extends from your heel bone to bottom of the toes.
  • It supports the arch of your foot.

Symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis include heel pain, which is usually the worst in the morning but improves throughout the day.

So what causes foot and ankle problems? Foot and ankle pain can stem from a number of factors. Some common ones include:

  • Poor footwear
  • Weakness in the intrinsic foot muscles
  • Poor foot anatomy such has a flat foot or high arches
  • Chronic issues with lower back, hip or the knee that causes pain down into the foot and ankle

If plantar fasciits and general foot pain is not taken care of, it can cause dysfunctions up the chain in your knee, hip and even your back. That’s because to compensate for this pain, you have an abnormal gait or walking pattern. The movements you use to perform a normal activity are altered to try and avoid that pain in your foot or ankle. This ‘trickle down’ effect is why it’s so important to see a physical therapist to learn what is causing your pain or dysfunction and so you can understand the correct way to treat your symptoms.

Physical therapy is a very effective treatment method to relieve a condition like plantar fasciitis and general foot and ankle discomfort. At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our clinicians will design an individualized plan of care specific to your symptoms. It will include targeted stretching and strengthening, teach you proper movement mechanics and address muscle imbalances. This will help decrease pain and inflammation, improve joint mobility, decrease muscle tightness and improve motor control of the ankle’s stabilizing muscles. It can also help you avoid the need for injections. Physical therapy will help improve strength and stability of the ankle and foot joint to restore your ability to get back to your normal lifestyle.

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our therapists will fully evaluate your foot and ankle and associated symptoms and help restore your full function. Don’t ignore your pain when you’ve been dealing with it for days, weeks or even years. CLICK HERE for more information about plantar fasciitis.