Heel pain that occurs when running or walking may indicate a foot condition such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. Foot pain with running or walking may also signify skin conditions of the feet, poor circulation, or nerve damage. These conditions may require rest and treatment to heal, and may worsen if ignored.
Heel Pain with Running or Walking
Heel pain that begins when running or walking is often an indication of plantar fasciitis, which is one of the most common foot conditions. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the ligament that supports the arch of the foot. This pain is commonly felt at the front of the heel. If symptoms do not match plantar fasciitis, or if pain persists despite plantar fasciitis treatment, another issue may be causing heel pain.
Skin conditions may also cause pain to spike when running or walking. Calluses, corns, and plantar warts are skin conditions that may irritate the tissue of the heel and cause pain. Skin conditions can often be detected when doing an examination of the foot, so patients may be able to spot and treat skin conditions at home. If pain persists or skin conditions worsen, medical attention should be sought.
Stress fractures and bone spurs can cause pain in the heel that increases when running or walking. Physicians may be able to detect these abnormalities in the bone by doing X-rays or other scan tests. In some cases, fractures can be set properly with a cast or splint, and pain can be reduced with medication. Bone spur aggravation may be treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs, corrective supports, and physical therapy. Depending on the severity of the fracture or excess bone growth, surgery may be necessary for these conditions to restore the shape of the foot and relieve tension on the soft tissue of the foot.
Pain with Running
If the calf and the back part of the heel both ache when running or walking, the patient most likely has Achilles tendinitis. Swelling and stiffness often accompany heel and calf pain with Achilles tendinitis. If Achilles tendinitis is the suspected cause of heel pain, patients should discontinue activities that aggravate the heel and calf until pain subsides. Applying ice and taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication may help to treat Achilles tendinitis. If pain persists for more than two weeks, medical attention should be sought.
“Foot Pain.” Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Feb 2014. Web. 17 Mar 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003183.htm>.
“Heel Pain.” American Podiatric Medical Association. American Podiatric Medical Association, n.d. Web. 17 Mar 2014. <http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=985>.
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