Common Causes of Heel Pain & How to Treat Them
Are you currently experiencing some form of heel pain?
You're probably worried, but before you jump to the worst conclusion, heel pain is a very common issue.
We use our feet every day for all sorts of activities, so it's natural that you might feel develop heel pain from overuse.
Sometimes though, heel pain could be caused by other factors that can cause serious complications if left untreated.
Keep reading to find out more about the common causes and treatments available for your heel pain!
What are the Common Causes of Heel Pain?
Heel pain is a symptom, not a condition in of itself. There are various causes of heel pain.
More importantly, this article is not a diagnosis - you should see a medical professional, such as a podiatrist, in order to find out what is causing your heel pain.
Plantar fasciitis refers to a common condition involving an inflamed thick band of connective tissue across the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia).
You will commonly experience a stabbing pain, particularly in the morning after waking up. However, the severe pain will gradually decrease the more you walk or stand.
It usually occurs in those who have
improper footwear, especially running shoes
jobs that require long periods of standing or walking
tight calf muscles
Untreated plantar fasciitis can lead to chronic heel pain, which may make it harder to perform your daily activities. This might make you alter your gait in an attempt to reduce pain, but this can cause complications with your feet, knees, hips and spine.
When you overuse your Achilles tendon, the tissue connecting your calf muscle to your heel bone, you may develop Achilles tendinitis or Achilles tendonitis.
It is most frequent in runners that abruptly change the intensity or duration of their runs. Middle-aged people who play sports can also experience Achilles tendinitis.
Bone spurs are bony growth located at the bottom of the heel bone. It is often painless but can cause heel pain.
A heel spur is frequently caused by
recurrent damage to the membrane that covers the heel bone
repetitive stress on the foot's muscles and ligaments
straining of the plantar fascia, which can also lead to plantar fasciitis
Another overuse injury, tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when you've damaged your tibial nerve. The tibial nerve stretches through your tarsal tunnel, hence the name.
It usually occurs when there is constant pressure on the nerve, causing pain, tingling or burning sensations at the bottom of your feet. Actively moving the body can often make the heel pain and other symptoms worse.
Some people suffer symptoms that worsen over time, while others have symptoms that start quite quickly.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome can cause irreparable, permanent nerve damage if it is not treated.
How Can I Treat Heel Pain at Home?
If you experience heel pain, there are plenty of ways to address the issue. You can try the following methods to try and relieve your pain:
apply ice to your heel for 10-15 minutes daily
wear properly fitted shoes
use shoe inserts or heel lifts
take over-the-counter (OTC) medicine
rest as much as you can
If the above methods don't work, visit a medical professional, such as a podiatrist, for a physical exam of your feet to determine the exact cause of your pain.
Upon your check-up, the doctor will then recommend an appropriate treatment plan for your condition.
When Should I Visit a Podiatrist?
Heel pain is common, so it's best to try some home remedies, as mentioned previously, before rushing to the ER.
However, if the issue persists for more than 2-3 weeks, it is advisable for you to make an appointment with a doctor to rule out more severe causes like a stress fracture.
Doctors often will prescribe patients with physical therapy as it
provides pain relief
improves overall mobility of the ankle joint
improves strength and functioning of your feet
Other times, doctors will prescribe you anti-inflammatory medication or custom orthotics.
In rare cases, surgery is an option to treat your heel pain. However, this is considered as a last resort and does not guarantee that your pain will subside significantly.
*If you experience the following, you should seek a doctor immediately:
extreme and sudden pain
swelling or redness around the heel
abnormal walking style
inability to walk due to the pain
How Do I Prevent Heel Pain?
First, you should know that not all heel pain is entirely preventable.
That being said, there are a few things you can practice in your daily life to avoid major injuries and pain in the heel:
wear shoes that fit and support your feet well
maintain a healthy diet and weight
do proper stretching exercises before physical activity
don't overwork yourself with strenuous activities
Manage Your Heel Pain and Other Foot Problems with Dr Foot
Remember, early treatment and prevention are better than waiting it out until it gets worse.
If you're experiencing heel pain or any type of foot issues, contact us to learn how you can manage your feet-related problems today!
We are able to diagnose your medical condition and curate a personalized treatment plan just for your needs.