When Your Heel Pain is Getting Worse
What should you do if your heel pain is getting worse?
Well, wait a minute. Let’s back up the blog trolley a little bit. This is a question that gets asked quite often, but it sort of implies that there was a point when heel pain was low enough to just tolerate. We just want to make it clear right off the bat that this is not how you should think.
If you have consistent heel pain, no matter the severity, it is something you should start to address now. There is quite likely a condition that needs action to treat, and waiting to see if it gets worse is just, well, waiting for an already existing problem to get worse. The ideal move is to get the help you need before things can become more complicated, and we are more than happy to help you with that!
But what if you have been trying to help your heels and you are afraid things are getting worse instead? That is definitely worth the attention you are giving the matter, and the information you provide can help steer treatment in a more effective direction.
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What Are Signs of Heel Pain Getting Worse?
Worsening heel pain does not quite always mean that the “ouch factor” is higher. It certainly can be, but other factors can be signs of a worsening condition as well.
The prevalence of some symptoms will certainly depend on the underlying problem, but it is helpful to keep track of the following in general:
Is Your Pain Not Fading When It Used To?
For many heel pain sufferers, pain can be at its worst when the feet hit the ground in the morning. This is often due to plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs along the arch of the foot.
While we sleep, or during other periods of long inactivity, the plantar fascia can grow tighter. The morning pain comes from the plantar fascia having to stretch and “warm up” once again. After a few minutes, the pain tends to improve.
If it’s taking longer and longer to “warm up,” however, that’s a sign that your condition is worsening. Similarly, if you tend to have heel pain following an activity such as running, and it is taking longer and longer to feel better, pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and stop running until you know what is going on.
Is Your Pain Starting to Manifest in New Areas of the Foot?
If your pain has been centered in the heel, is it starting to spread toward the arch as well. Or, if it has been focused more in the arch, is it starting to spread deeper into the heel or even toward the base of the toes? Spreading pain can be a sign of further damage happening to stressed bones or tissues within the foot.
Are Additional Areas of Your Body Starting to Hurt as Well?
An abnormal structure can cause pain, and pain can also change our structure.
If an abnormality in your foot structure is responsible for your heel pain (having flat feet or fallen arches, for example), it can affect your gait in ways that cause muscles and joints farther up the body to adjust as well. Everything is connected, after all.
This chain of overcompensation and misalignment can cause excess strain to travel up the body. You may start to feel it in areas such as the knees, hips, and even lower back. While it is possible that separate conditions are responsible for pain in different areas, many cases such as these can be traced back to the feet.
Is the Pain Growing in Intensity?
We saved this one for last because it is likely the most easily discernable sign.
Do you find your heels growing more tender over time? Is resting having less and less effect on reducing pain?
Has the pain become so bad as to interfere with your daily activities? Are you shortening the amount of time you spend on your feet, or just turning down plans altogether because you dread spending time on your feet? Then yes, something must be done!
Don’t Wait to Find the Solutions You Need
If your heel pain has been getting worse, you have already been waiting so much longer than you have needed to. Associates in Podiatry can help you find the solutions that fit your specific conditions and needs!
If you have already tried certain forms of treatment, that in no way means none will work for you. Nearly no case of heel pain is hopeless; it just takes getting to the source of the heel pain to address it properly.
We always start with a thorough examination to determine the best course of treatment. It might involve sports medicine, custom orthotics, or other forms of treatment—and that treatment might even need to be adjusted based on the results we start to see—but most forms of heel pain can be effectively treated without the need for surgery!
(And, on the chance that surgery really is the best or only option, we provide expert surgical advice and care as well.)
Schedule an appointment by giving us a call at either of our two offices: (609) 924-8333 for Princeton or (908) 687-5757 for Roselle Park. If you prefer the electronic route, you can always fill out our online contact form instead.