Your heel is made from fatty tissue that cushions your heel bone, also called the calcaneus. It protects the bones, muscles, and ligaments in your foot, and it’s built to withstand a considerable amount of pressure and strain. Unfortunately, if your heel is overused or injured, you may experience a great deal of pain. Many common causes of heel pain include retrocalcaneal exostosis, nerve entrapment, and plantar fasciitis. We’ll touch on potential solutions for each of these conditions below.

Retrocalcaneal Exostosis

A retrocalcaneal exostosis, often called a bone spur, is an overgrowth of the back of the heel bone. In some cases, orthotics and physical therapy will provide sufficient relief from pain. When surgery is required, the doctor will seek to remove scar tissue from the affected area to increase blood circulation to the Achilles tendon. To remove a bone spur, the doctor may perform arthroscopic surgery or create an open incision, depending on the severity of the case.

Nerve Entrapment

Calcaneal nerve entrapment, also called Baxter’s neuritis, occurs when the nerve that rests against the heel bone is compressed by a muscle. The condition is commonly mistaken for plantar fasciitis. Non-surgical treatments typically include rest, immobilization, and bracing; icing the affected area; and taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that allow the area to heal. Physical therapy exercises and injectable steroid treatments may also reduce inflammation. Custom orthotic shoe inserts may also be prescribed to help reduce or prevent nerve compression.

For severe cases of nerve entrapment, ultrasound-guided radiofrequency ablation can give patients long-term relief from their pain and symptoms. This minimally invasive procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to heat and destroy the affected section of the nerve, which will prevent it from sending pain signals to the brain. The treatment may also improve circulation and accelerate healing.

When nerve entrapment proves unresponsive to other interventions, surgery may be the best option for treatment. Your foot and ankle surgeon will devise a treatment plan based on the manifestation of your condition.

Plantar Fascitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of fibrous tissue on the sole of the foot called the plantar fascia. This tissue connects the heel bone to the base of the toes and helps support your arch. When the fascia loses elasticity, it can become inflamed.

Treatment options for plantar fasciitis include stretching and physical therapy that focuses on healing the Achilles tendon, icing the affected area, rest, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Doctors may encourage patients to wear orthotic shoe inserts or shoes that provide additional shock absorption and heel cushioning.

Other treatments that may help heal plantar fasciitis include the following:

Steroid Injections

When plantar fasciitis remains unresponsive to stretching treatments after a few months, you may be given steroid injections to reduce inflammation.

Shock Wave Therapy

This treatment delivers low-energy or high-energy shock waves to the affected area of the plantar fascia to trigger the body’s natural healing response.

Gastrocnemius Recession

When plantar fasciitis is severe, doctors sometimes recommend a surgical procedure called gastrocnemius recession that lengthens the gastroc tendon. This surgery may be called for if you suffer from tightness in your tendons and calf muscles that force your foot out of its natural, neutral position.

The Importance of Early Intervention

If you experience heel pain that lasts longer than a week, it’s important to seek treatment. Waiting for your pain to subside or putting off treatment until it becomes unbearable can lead to long-term issues or injuries.

Timely intervention often promotes accelerated healing, faster recovery, and better outcomes. It may also help stop the progression of the conditions that are causing your pain and prevent it from worsening.

The Importance of a Professional Consultation

Heel pain can be debilitating and interfere with your ability to engage in normal daily activity. To find long-lasting relief, it’s important to find an expert foot surgeon who can accurately diagnose your condition and devise a treatment plan that ensures a full recovery.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Podiatrists

If heel pain is preventing you from living life to the fullest, speaking to a specialist can help set you on the path to recovery. Our experienced surgeons in Reseda, Artesia, and Rancho Cucamonga, CA, are committed to providing state-of-the-art treatments that will help you feel your best every day. To discover how our doctors can help you live a pain-free life, call our office today and schedule a consultation.