Heel pain is a stressful condition that affects day to day activities. Stress on the heel is often created from running and walking because the heel hits the ground first and takes on the body’s entire weight.
One of the main causes of heel pain is a condition known as plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that extends along the bottom of the foot, from the toe to the bottom of the heel. A rip or tear in this ligament can cause the inflammation of these tissues, resulting in heel pain. People who do not wear proper fitting shoes are often at risk of developing this condition. Unnecessary stress from ill-fitting shoes, weight change, excessive running, and wearing non-supportive shoes on hard surfaces are all causes of plantar fasciitis.
Achilles tendonitis is another cause of heel pain. Similar to plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the Achilles tendon can cause heel pain due to muscle tearing. A lack of flexibility of the ankle and heel is an indicator of Achilles tendonitis. If left untreated, this condition can lead to plantar fasciitis and create even more pain in your heel.
A third cause of heel pain is a heel spur. A heel spur occurs when the tissues of the plantar fascia undergo a great deal of stress, leading to a separation of the ligament from the heel bone entirely. This separation results in a pointed fragment of bone on the ball of the foot, or a heel spur.
Treatments for heel pain are easy and effective as long as problems are addressed quickly. The most common solution for heel pain is simply taking stress off the feet, particularly off of the heel. This will help ease pain and allow the tendons and ligaments to relax. In the case of both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, icing will reduce swelling in any part of the foot. Anti-inflammatory medication is highly recommended. Wearing proper-fitting shoes and heel pads or comfort insoles will also reduce the risk of developing heel pain. Stretching before and after exercises will help the foot muscles prepare for stress and decrease the chances of inflammatory pain. In extreme cases, relieving heel pain might require surgery. Always make sure to discuss these symptoms and treatment options with your podiatrist to keep yourself active and pain free.