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Why Does My Heel Hurt?

If you are experiencing lower calf, ankle and heel pain, especially first thing after arising, the culprit may be an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This is the large tendon that connects your calf muscle to the back of your heel, and when it becomes overstretched or torn from excessive pressure, the result can be a painful condition called Achilles tendonitis.

What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Improper warm up before exercising, and having improperly treated flat feet are two possible factors. Others may include:

  • Repetitive stress—from intense sporting activities such as tennis and soccer, and from workouts that are too aggressive. Suddenly increasing the intensity or duration of a workout can also stress this tendon.
  • Starting an exercise program too rapidly—Many injuries to the Achilles tendon are caused by working out too enthusiastically after a long period of inaction. Middle aged men tend to overestimate their abilities when starting an exercise program, so always start off slowly to avoid injury.
  • Poorly fitting shoes—Shoes with proper heel and arch support are essential to maintaining foot health. Always choose an athletic shoe that is designed for the activity and that contains the adequate amount of cushioning and support.

Treatment Recommendations:

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.)—Rest your foot and use a walking boot or crutches. Ice the area for fifteen minutes whenever painful or inflamed. Wrap the area to minimize movement and to help reduce swelling. Elevate your leg on a pillow, and overnight.
  • Pain management—Ibuprofen or other pain reliever.
  • Orthotic inserts—These in combination with properly fitted shoes can relieve the strain on the tendon and cushion the heel area.
  • Physical therapy exercises—As the tendon heals, you will need to slowly strengthen and stretch the area.

If the pain in your heel is intense enough to prevent you from walking, you may have ruptured your Achilles tendon. This type of injury may need to be surgically repaired by your foot specialist.

The podiatrists at Foot Health Podiatry, PLLC, in New York City, NY, are experts in providing the best care for any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles. Sorelis Jimenez, DPM, John W. Fletcher, DPM, and Kamilla Danilova, DPM and the rest of the staff at Foot Health Podiatry, PLLC, are happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have. Check out our Ask The Doctor page for answers to frequently asked questions, and never hesitate to give us a call to talk or make an appointment at 212-845-9991.


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