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Sharp Pain in Heel: What Causes It and What Are Your Treatment Options

Sharp Pain in Heel Twin Boro

Are you experiencing heel pain in the morning? Do the first few steps out of bed cause you to cringe in pain? Discover common causes of a sharp pain in heel and what you can do about it.

What Causes Sharp Pain in the Heels?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. In fact, it has been estimated to affect about two million people in the US. Symptoms of this condition are caused by inflammation and swelling of the plantar fascia, a ligament that extends from your heel to your toes along the bottom of the foot. 

All this inflammation and swelling can lead to a feeling of sharp pain in the heel, usually in the morning or after a rest period. It tends to improve with movement, but can be aggravated by long periods of weight bearing. 

Although Plantar fasciitis is the most common heel injury in athletes, it can affect both sedentary and athletic individuals. Experts believe this heel pain results from chronic overload due to lifestyle or exercise, such as standing for long periods of time or running.

Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis / Sharp Heel Pain

Some common risk factors for plantar fasciitis involving sharp heel pain include:  

  • Obesity
  • Pes planus (flat feet)
  • Pes cavus (high-arched feet)
  • Shortened Achilles tendon
  • Overpronation (inward roll)
  • Limited ankle dorsiflexion
  • Weak intrinsic muscles of the foot
  • Weak plantar flexor muscles
  • Poor biomechanics or alignment
  • Deconditioning
  • Hard surface
  • Walking barefoot
  • Prolonged weight bearing
  • Inadequate stretching
  • Poor footwear

Alleviating Sharp Pain in the Heel at Home

Self-management at home can be helpful. If you experience acute pain in the heel, consider keeping a towel near your bedside and performing a calf and arch stretch. Do this before going to sleep and before taking any steps out of bed in the morning. Pull back on your foot for about 30 seconds three times, with 30 seconds of rest in between each set. Also simply flexing your feet toward and away from your knees (knees either flexed, extended, or both) can help “loosen” the feet to decrease the severity of pain during those first few steps.

You can also roll the plantar fascia with a ball, such as a lacrosse ball. Keep it at your nightstand and roll out the plantar fascia before going to sleep and again before taking your first steps in the morning. Roll for about 1 minute, three times, with 30 seconds of rest in between.

How Physical Therapy Can Help Plantar Fasciitis

If home treatments for your heel pain don’t provide some relief, physical therapy can help. Treatment will depend on the root cause of your heel pain but may include:

  • Manual therapy and exercise
  • Ice
  • Taping

If left untreated, plantar fasciitis may result in chronic pain and make it much more difficult to treat. With any injury the sooner a physical therapist is consulted, the sooner the painful impairments and related limitations will be controlled and quality of life improved.  To help in your recovery come to one of our physical therapy clinics to learn more about how our qualified physical therapists can help you find pain relief and walking normally once again. 

With 23 locations throughout New Jersey, we make it easy to find a physical therapy clinic near you. Simply search for your closest location using your zip code. The team at Twin Boro Physical Therapy looks forward to helping you get healthy and guiding you down the road to recovery. 

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