Does Heel Pain Resolve on Its Own?

Sep 01, 2023
Does Heel Pain Resolve on Its Own?
While it’s true that some cases of heel pain get better on their own, several conditions require prompt medical attention. Learn more about the causes of heel pain and when to schedule an appointment with our podiatrists.

Heel pain is often a warning sign of plantar fasciitis, a condition that results when the ligaments in the arch of your foot are strained or stressed. However, heel pain can also be a symptom of other conditions that require treatment, especially if it continues to get worse.

At Foot and Ankle Specialists in Memorial City, The Woodlands, and Huntsville, Texas, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of heel pain. Our experienced podiatrists can also provide resources like custom orthotics to prevent pain from becoming chronic.

Why your heel hurts

The plantar fascia is a band of tissues that connect your Achilles tendon to your heel bone. When too much stress is put on these tissues, inflammation may occur, and small tissue tears can form.

Putting pressure on your heel when standing or walking can increase the intensity of inflammation and pain. Holes in the tissue can also get larger or tear away from your heel bone.

In addition to plantar fasciitis, heel pain can be a symptom of:

  • Bursitis
  • Heel spurs
  • Stress fractures
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

You may also experience heel pain if you develop plantar warts on your heel. Warts are a type of infection caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) that appear as rough skin bumps on the bottoms of your feet.

Warts can be painful and may cause you to change how you walk and stand, which can ultimately cause pain in your muscles and the joints of your feet and ankles.

When to get help for heel pain

Occasional heel pain from overexertion and early-stage plantar fasciitis may resolve on its own with rest, elevation, and ice therapy. However, if you stay physically active without protecting your heel or connective tissues, pain can come back and ultimately worsen.

If you have conditions like stress fractures, heel spurs, or arthritis, pain may not go away without medical intervention. For this reason, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis for heel pain that lasts for a week or longer and pain that doesn’t get better with rest and other home care strategies.

Identifying the cause of your heel pain involves a physical exam of your leg, ankle, and foot. Our physicians may also order X-rays or an ultrasound to check for tissue tears, inflammation, and bone fractures.

Based on the nature of your condition, we customize a treatment plan to ease existing heel pain and treat its root cause. Our providers can also suggest ways to protect your heel and surrounding structures from overuse and injuries.

Treatment options for persistent heel pain

Initially, you may benefit from nonsurgical treatments to ease your heel pain and prevent additional injuries. These treatments may include:

  • Shoe inserts and other orthotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching exercises
  • Cortisone injections

If you have large tears in the plantar fascia that can’t heal on their own, our physicians may recommend surgery. They use minimally invasive techniques that only require small incisions to access and repair the tissue. 

Your surgeon may also perform an endoscopic plantar fasciotomy to cut the plantar fascia away from your heel bone to prevent chronic heel pain.

Outpatient surgery may also be necessary for bone spurs that irritate your heel and surrounding tissues. Our providers can file down painful spurs through small incisions in your heel.

To schedule a diagnostic evaluation for your heel pain, call the Foot and Ankle Specialists office near you today, or book an appointment online anytime.