Heel Pain: Causes, Prevention, and Treatments

Heel pain is one of the most common foot problems. It has many potential causes which means that you’ll most probably need to visit a podiatrist in order to diagnose the root cause of the problem. There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and over a hundred tendons in your foot and ankle and the heel is the largest bone. The potential causes of heel pain may be due to conditions with the heel bone itself such as stress and injury or conditions that affect other parts near the heel bone, for example, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

Heel Pain Remedies

The heel bone is located at the back of the foot just below the ankle and it allows for the side-to-side movement of the back of the foot. Heel pain is usually mainly caused by a local condition that only affects the foot. Heel pain can be mild or severe and in worst cases, it can be disabling. It is worth noting that this pain usually disappears without treatment or with simple home remedies such as getting enough rest, wearing shoes that fit perfectly, wearing night splints – these are special devices that help stretch the foot as you sleep, applying ice to the heel twice a day, inserting heel lifts in order to reduce the pain amongst other remedies.

If none of the above home remedies seem to avail any relief, then you should consider visiting a foot doctor. In most cases, heel pain is not usually caused by injury, hence, the podiatrist will try to diagnose issues with the bones, soft tissues, nerves, skin, and systemic diseases. They will conduct a series of tests in order to determine the cause of the problem.

Common Causes of Heel Pain

There is a myriad of potential causes of your heel pain that you will be tested for.

Plantar Fasciitis

This is the inflammation or swelling of the plantar fascia, which is the ligament that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. This pain is felt at the base of the heel and is caused when too much pressure is applied on the plantar fascia, this happens when standing up after long periods of rest.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon due to overuse. The Achilles tendon connects the calves to the heel bone. Poor-fitting shoes also cause Achilles tendonitis.

The above-mentioned are the most common causes of heel pain, however, other less common causes should also be considered and they include:

– Stress Fractures
– Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
– Severs Disease
– Heel Bursitis
– Heel Bumps
– Chronic inflammation of the heel pad

When To Call A Doctor

If you experience any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

– Heel pain and fever; fever may be a sign of an infection.
– Difficulty and inability to walk
– Severe pain
– Swelling and discoloration in the heel area

Prevention Of Heel Pain

Even though preventing all instances of heel pain may be difficult, there are some precautions that you can take in order to avoid the symptoms and recurrence of heel pain.

– Gradually increase athletic activities while taking breaks in between
– Maintain a healthy body weight in order to reduce stress on the heels
– Wear properly fitting footwear
– Get enough rest whenever you feel tired
– Wear suitable shoes for every physical activity

Treatments

Treatment plans for heel pain usually depend on the cause of your heel pain. After diagnosis, your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan for your condition. Here are some common treatments for heel pain

Rest

Getting ample rest is recommended for the more acute causes of heel pain, for example, bruises. Resting an also help manage some severe causes of heel pain.

Applying Ice

Applying ice to the heel twice a day for 10-15 minutes helps to treat swelling and eliminate pain.

Physical Therapy

Your podiatrist may recommend some simple exercises and stretches that help to relax the tissues surrounding the heel bone. If you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis, the Alfred protocol exercise program may be recommended.

Medications

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually used to reduce pain and swelling. They help treat conditions caused by plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, a heel pad bruise, Haglund’s syndrome amongst others.

Taping

Athletic taping is used to provide the bottom of the foot with enhanced support.

Surgery

Surgery is usually recommended only when other non-invasive treatments have failed or in case of a tendon rupture.

Potential causes of heel pain vary and some are more severe than others. However, your foot doctor Leesburg will be able to determine the root cause of your problem and develop the most effective treatment plan.

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Zimmermann Podiatry