Why Isn’t My Heel Pain Going Away!?

Jan 25, 2021

Nothing is more frustrating than a problem you just … can’t … get rid of, especially when that problem is something that affects your quality of life and keeps you from being as active as you’d like to be.

Like, for example, persistent heel pain.

What makes heel pain even more frustrating is that it seems like it should be something you can deal with on your own. In fact, many minor cases of heel pain can be treated successfully with no more than a little bit of rest and time. But for some people, those simple solutions just don’t work.

If that’s your situation, what happens next?

Don’t worry! While some cases of heel pain are definitely more stubborn than others, almost all can be treated successfully without surgery. It’s just a matter of figuring out why your heels are hurting, and then responding with the correct countermeasures.

Here are a few of the most common culprits:

Why Isn’t My Heel Pain Going Away!?

Your Footwear is Doing You No Favors

When it comes to possible heel pain causes, your shoes should definitely be one of your top suspects.

In our modern society—full of its hard floors and concrete pavement everywhere—it’s critically important that you have comfortable, supportive shoes that fit your feet properly. The right pair can often significantly reduce your pain. The wrong pair, however, can magnify it.

We probably don’t have to tell you that cramped, ill-fitting shoes, high heels, and flips flops can wreak havoc on your feet, but even “friendly-looking” shoes can cause problems if they don’t provide the support your feet need.

Any shoe you spend time in should give you proper support (particularly for your arches) and be made to accommodate the forces you subject your feet to. That’s especially important for athletic shoes, as well as shoes for physically demanding jobs.

You Are Putting Your Feet Through Too Much

Your feet are designed to keep you moving throughout the day, day after day, your whole life long. But like any part of your body, they have their limits. And while those limits can be increased over time, it has to be done gradually and purposefully.

When you challenge yourself physically, exercised tissues literally “break down” on a microscopic level. Then, when you rest afterward, your body takes the opportunity to recover and rebuild itself stronger than before. In a nutshell, that’s how improving your fitness works!

But if you apply too much force all at once, or keep pushing yourself for extended periods of time without enough opportunities to rest, the rate of breakdown can overwhelm the rate of recovery. That’s how you get chronic pain.

Heel pain conditions such as stress fractures (i.e. hairline cracks in the bone), plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and more can all be the result of overuse – and you don’t need to be trying to go pro for it to happen. Any sort of exertion beyond what your body can currently handle, whether during sports, work, or hobbies, can put you at risk. And if you keep putting yourself in this position without making changes, you can’t expect your heels to recover.

woman with heel pain

You Have A Structural Problem

Sometimes heel pain is influenced more by internal rather than external factors. Or in other words, it’s about what’s happening inside your foot as much as outside it!

For many people, abnormalities in foot structure or the way they walk can be major contributors to pain and discomfort.

Just like how unsupportive shoes can improperly shift the way weight is distributed across the feet, internal structure problems like flat feet and high arches can do essentially the same thing. Even having tight calf muscles can cause trouble, as they tend to place more stress upon the Achilles tendon, which is attached to the heel bone, which is attached to the plantar fascia. There are plenty of opportunities for problems to develop, and an abnormal foot structure increases the chances of them happening.

But don’t worry! Just because the problem is structural doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined for reconstructive surgery. In fact, unless your foot deformity is really severe (and if it is, you’d probably notice), conservative treatments will still usually do the trick.

Speaking of:

Let’s Build A Lasting Heel Pain Plan that Works

Whether your specific case of heel pain is rooted in one or more of the above situations, or something else entirely, we can help! Accurately identifying the underlying causes of pain and addressing them with tailored, personalized treatment solutions is kind of our jam.

We take the time to conduct a full physical examination, as well as speak with you to learn more about how your heel pain affects your daily life. 

Using what we learn, we can recommend a plan that may include one or more elements, depending on what you need for relief. This may include:

  • Changes to footwear or activities
  • The use of custom orthotics
  • Traditional treatment and rest for certain injuries
  • Advanced treatments such as EPAT to accelerate soft tissue recovery

Whatever suits your specific needs best, we will happily discuss our recommendations and answer any questions you may have.

Don’t wait any longer to find the solutions to heel pain that you need. Call Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates at (360) 761-1285 to schedule an appointment at our Enumclaw office. We also have telemedicine appointments available if you wish to consult with us remotely first.