Is My Foot Pain Achilles Tendonitis or Plantar Fasciitis?

Print icon

Is that a rock in my shoe? Overuse injuries can cause heel and foot pain.

Weekend warriors, aerobics enthusiasts and even folks who are just getting back into exercise are no strangers to pains and strains.

When it comes to foot pain, there are two common issues:

  • Pain in the back of the heel may be the result of Achilles tendonitis, which can be caused by an overuse injury.
  • Pain on the bottom of the foot may be caused by plantar fasciitis – a result of inflammation in the fascia, a connective tissue, which in this case stretches between your heal and toes.

In both cases, the pain is a culmination of irritation over time, rather than an acute injury, like a sprain.

“The expression ‘no pain, no gain’ can be dangerous,” said Dr. Adam Ferguson, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the foot and ankle at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center. “You should always listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, give it some rest.”

In about 35 percent of cases, these injuries occur in people who exercise a few days a week, but body mechanics, shoe fit, age, gender, foot shape, your occupation and your weight can also play a role.

It is rare for an Achilles tendon or the fascia in the foot to rupture, but cortisone injections can increase the risk of rupture.

Both tendonitis and fasciitis can cause bone spurs – bumps of extra bone that grow in an injured area. Bone spurs are not usually the cause of the pain. Instead, they are typically the result of the irritated soft tissues. Removing bone spurs rarely fixes the issue.

Fortunately, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis can be prevented, or at least mitigated. In both cases, rest, stretching and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are common treatments. In difficult-to-treat cases, physical therapy, bracing or, in cases resistant to all other forms of treatment, surgery may be required. Splints and orthotics may also be helpful in treating both conditions.

“Patients with pain in the back of the heel or the bottom of the foot that doesn’t go away with rest and NSAIDs after a couple of weeks should call their doctor,” said Dr. Ferguson. “There are effective treatments outside of surgery that can be used to manage overuse injuries of the foot. If surgery is required, the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute is uniquely positioned to not only treat the problem, but also provide an exceptional experience geared toward the unique needs of each patient.”

Gradually increasing your activity, wearing properly fitting shoes, incorporating stretching in your routine, maintaining a healthy weight, and alternating activities are effective ways to prevent overuse injuries. Sometimes, foot pain caused by overuse injuries can take up to six months to resolve.

Dr. Adam Ferguson is an orthopaedic surgeon at the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center. His focus is on foot and ankle care. To learn more about the Institute, click here


What's New

Inpatient Rehab Team Engages Bride-to-be

Laura Day had a lot to look forward to – her two-year old daughter was anticipating Santa’s arrival, she had a baby on the way, and life with her boyfriend was good. In the days before Christmas, Laura was stricken with a stomach bug – nothing out of the ordinary,...


Connecticut’s drug-related deaths up 18 percent in 2019

The numbers tell a sobering story – after a dip in deaths from drug overdoses in 2018, Connecticut recorded 1,200, or 18 percent more, drug-related deaths in 2019, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The one stagnant piece of information in the equation, however, is the fact...

World Lymphedema Day is March 6th

On Friday, March 6th, therapists from Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network will be on hand at several locations throughout the state to provide information about lymphedema services in recognition of World Lymphedema Day.  In preparation for the event, Linda Hodgkins, MS OTR/L CLT-LANA, Clinical Program Manager for HHCRN’s lymphedema services, answers...

11th Healthy Family FunFest set for Feb. 23

Now celebrating its 11th year, Healthy Family FunFest will provide thousands of visitors access to information about healthy living, fitness, health screenings and a wide variety of resources, services, demonstrations, hands-on learning, friendly challenges, and interactive activities. This free event features more than 100 tables showcasing Hartford HealthCare service lines...


Hartford HealthCare to Provide Health Services for UHart Students

Hartford HealthCare and the University of Hartford have announced a partnership for the health system to provide health services to students.  Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Flaks was joined by University President Greg Woodwood and  UHart alum and Hartford HealthCare staff member Latasha Raineault during halftime of...

Dr. Elena Bortan

Movement Disorders Care Comes to Mystic

Much as the design of the new Hartford HealthCare facility at 100 Perkins Farms Drive in Mystic reflects the vibe of coastal community, the location of specialists from the HHC Ayer Neuroscience Institute’s Chase Family Movement Disorders Center to the facility answers a demand for high-quality care and support in...