Heel pain is one of the most common conditions treated by podiatrists. It is often a message from the body that something is in need of medical attention. Pain that occurs right after an injury or early in an illness may play a protective role, often warning us about the damage we have suffered.
The causes of heel pain
While heel pain has many causes, it is usually the result of faulty biomechanics (abnormalities in the way we walk). This can place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues attached to it.
The stress may also result from injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed footwear; or being significantly overweight.
Systemic diseases such as arthritis and diabetes can also contribute to heel pain.
OTHER CAUSES OF HEEL PAIN
Excessive rolling in of the feet when walking.
An inflamed bursa (bursitis), a small, irritated sack of fluid at the back of the heel.
A neuroma (a nerve growth).
Other soft-tissue growths.
Heel bumps or ‘pump bumps’, a bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone.
Bruises or stress fractures to the heel bone. Overcoming the problem
If pain and other symptoms of inflammation – redness, swelling, heat – persist, you should limit normal daily activities and consult our Podiatrist.
We may request a number of x-rays or ultrasound to look for heel spurs or fractures.
Early treatment might involve exercise and shoe recommendations, taping or strapping and anti-inflammatory medication (such as aspirin). Taping or strapping supports the foot, placing stressed muscles in a restful state and preventing stretching of the plantar fascia. Other physical therapies may also be used, including ice-packs and ultra-sounds.
These treatments will effectively treat the majority of heel and arch pain without the need for surgery.
Only a relatively few cases of heel pain require surgery. If required, surgery is usually for the removal of a spur, but also may involve release of the plantar fascia, removal of a bursa, or a removal of a neuroma or other soft tissue growth.
Your recovery will depend on the cause of your heel pain and your individual health. If you are suffering with a heel spur or plantar fasciitis, it normally takes about six to eight weeks for a healthy individual to fully recover. That is when the injured area is fully rested or properly strapped.
Preventing future problems
STRETCHES AND EXERCISE
Prepare properly before exercising. Warm-up before running or walking, and do some stretching exercises afterward.
Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities. If overweight, try non weight-bearing activities such as swimming or cycling.
We may also use taping or strapping to provide extra support for your foot. Orthoses (shoe inserts) specifically made to suit your needs may be also be prescribed.