Good for the Sole
Have you ever walked a theme park from one end to the other, all day long? Your feet were probably the first things to get tired, right? When your feet hurt, your whole body seems to hurt. That’s because each foot has 33 joints and a network of more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones in your foot. Like all the bones in our bodies, it is affected by outside influences, which can keep us off our feet.
Q. What is one of the most common foot problems?
Heel pain, which can occur in the front, back or bottom of the heel.
Q. What is a bone spur?
A bone spur (or heel spur) is a bony growth on the underside of the heel bone. It results from strain on the foot’s muscles and ligaments, when the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot (the fascia) is stretched, and by repeated tearing away of the lining or membrane that covers the heel bone.
Q. Why does this happen?
The pain can be caused by inflexible or tight calf muscles, an abnormally low or high foot arch, poor arch support, being overweight, suddenly increasing activity, or spending too much time on your feet. Athletes are especially prone to foot pain simply because of their daily activities.
Q. Why does this cause heel pain?
A bone spur by itself does not cause pain, but it is commonly associated with plantar fasciitis. Together they cause pain on the bottom of the foot and heel.
Q. What is the plantar fascia?
The plantar fascia is the thick connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel bone forward to the metatarsal bones (the ball of the foot). It supports the foot’s arch and endures tremendous tension—approximately two times our body weight—as we walk or stand. If our calves are not flexible or we gain weight, it puts more tension on this tissue.
Q. What can be done to lessen plantar fasciitis pain?
Once plantar fasciitis has been diagnosed, the best treatment is rest, ice and stretching. Soft-soled, flexible shoes, such as athletic shoes, may help. You can also get orthotics for your shoes that will give your foot more support. Stretching exercises for your foot may also help alleviate the pain, and injection therapy can be helpful in many situations. Surgery is a last resort.
Article By Jonathan Lubitz, DPM
Jonathan Lubitz, DPM, is board-certified in foot surgery by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. His office is at 5005 Port St. John Parkway, Port St. John. Call 321-433-2247 for an appointment.