A heel is the largest bone of foot which gives support to the entire body during standing, walking and running. Due to over stressed or repetitive use, your foot can develop mild pain which gets severe with time. As per the report of the American Podiatric Medical Association or APMA which is the largest podiatrist center in the US, all kinds of heel pain can be relived through the expertise treatment of heel pain.
Just like other bones in the body, the heel bones are consist of 33 joints and approx. 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles. There can be numerous reasons behind developing heel pain so without accessing the background of the concerned person no single reason can be marked as its original cause.
However, overuse of this particular part of the foot and due to wearing uncomfortable footwear and overstretching are some of the common reasons behind this particular health issue. Athletes who use their foot and heels rigorously for their practicing schedule are the most likely victim of heel pain caused by an injury in foot.
When the heel pain develops it generally either be under the heels, behind the heels and in very few cases it can be at the side of the foot too. Pain which generates under the heel area is the most common type of heel pain, also known as Plantar Fasciitis.
Pain that occurs behind the heel can also affect both inner and outside of the heel or foot area. This type of heel pain is known as Achilles Tendinitis. An untreated heel pain for a longer duration can get complicated with time and may cause disabling too.
Not all heel pains are subject to cause disabling issue or severity. Sometimes a mild form of heel pain disappears on its own with time without any intervention of medical treatment. However, if your pain persists for a very longer duration and all your home remedies proved to fail to relieve it then you must consult a doctor or podiatric physician.
Table of Contents
Heel pain health concern has the following sign or symptoms in general:
- Mild to an intense form of pain in the heel.
- The pain may occur below the heel area or back or side of the heel area depending upon the type of heel pain.
- Pain and tenderness develops under the foot area to the front side of the heel.
- In the case of Achilles pain occurs behind and above the heel area.
- Normal activities of life get hampered like walking, running etc. Pain gets immense while getting out of bed during the morning.
- High heels and improper footwear wearing make the condition worst.
- Sometimes the pain gets relieved on its own with long hours rest during the day.
- Sometimes pain intensity doesn’t goes off even with long hours rest and needs doctors to visit.
Heel pain may occur due to several reasons under many circumstances. Basically, it is the result of abnormalities in walking gait or improper biomechanics which puts unusual stress towards heel bones and small soft tissues consisting of heel bones causing pain around the heels.
This kind of stress may develop due to some kind of bruising or from an injury during different body movements and activities such as walking, jumping, running etc. Often uncomfortable footwear or badly prepared footwear are find responsible for this health concern.
Apart from these general conditions or reasons some common causes of heel pain or responsible for a different type of pain in the lowest part of foot i.e. heel are mentioned below.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of heel pain caused by the over stretching of fascia, a band of fibrous connective tissues lining along the plantar or bottom surface of the foot towards the foot balls. This causes tear and inflammation in the plantar fascia ligaments.
Resulting in intense pain and stiffness in heel occur which remain beyond the normal tolerance level of a person. The pain intensity gets severe after a prolonged rest and especially in the morning time after whole night rest.
Athletes are the most usual victims of plantar fasciitis because of their lifestyle and excessive usage of the heel area of the foot. The plantar fasciitis includes both heel pain and heel spurs. Though rest and walking provides relief from the pain but this is only temporary relief and after rest or excessive walking the condition remains as it is.
Achilles tendinitis is a chronic condition which occurs due to the pain and inflammation or an injury in the tendon which attaches the calf muscles. Achilles tendinitis is also known as tendinosis, tendonitis, and tendinopathy.
People who walks and run excessively and have very tight tendons are the most likely victim of this type of heel pain. This happens because over usage of the heel makes the tendons strained with time, resulting in microscopic tendon get tear and stretches along its length or its insertion happens to the heel bones.
As a result of Achilles tendinitis pain, inflammation, and growth of bone spur on the back side of heel bone occurs. Over active lifestyle habits makes an existing tight tendon stiffer and strain over the time. The condition gets chronic due to severe irritation caused by excessive body movements in a day to day life.
Heel spurs is the bony growth under the heel bones. It is caused by the inflammation of the fibrous tissues which connects the heel and foot’s ball together. This condition is often connected with the Plantar fasciitis.
Heel spurs causes pain, stiffness and discomfort in heels. It is also known as heel spur syndrome. While diagnosing the heel spurs through X-ray it look likes protrusion which can extend forward up to the half inch length.
Excessive running or jogging along with unfit or worn footwear or due to excess body weight which puts extra pressure over heels or biochemical imbalances are some common reasons which gives a trigger and growth to heel spurs health issue.
Over pronation can lead to generate heel pain and may even cause injury in hips, lower back and knee areas of your body. Pronation is the normal activity of foot which involves versatile motion and flattening of the foot arch.
This enables the foot to make synchronize with the ground surface area and absorb shocks derived out of walking. Along with foot steps or walking the heel contacts the ground area and then the body weight shifts towards the outside of the foot and then towards the bigger toe.
In this process, the foot arch rises, rolls upwards and outward and get stable and rigid to carry and forward the whole body weight. If excessive pronation happens it creates over stretching and pressure on the tendons and ligaments lining towards the lowest back point of the heels resulting in heel pain and injury happens.
Heel Bursa Inflammation
An inflammation in heel bursa or bursitis which is a fibrous sac filled with fluid can lead to generate pain inside and backside of the heel. This kind of inflammation occurs due to wrong body posture especially while landing a surface or due to immense pressure in heels caused by unfit footwear.
Sometimes heel bursitis can cause inflammation in Achilles tendons. Moreover, the pain gets worsen with the passage of time if necessary care and treatment is not provided.
Heel bumps issue is very common among teenagers as their heel bones remain immature at this stage. This condition is also known as pump bumps. Due to excessive rubbing, the formation of extra bones happens.
This condition is often triggered with a flat foot and due to wearing of heels more than enough when the bones are not actually matured to tolerate the pressure of heels.
A repetitive stress around the heel area causes soreness and pain over the area which is over-stressed. This condition is also known as heel pain syndrome which develops due to repetitive stress on heel area or a sudden increase in activity or due to footwear which have low heels that is unsuitable for the heel’s fat pad leading it to generate pain and soreness.
Osteoporosis which is a major bone health condition primarily related to aging related diseases can also cause repetitive stress and pressure leading to heel pain.
Strains and Sprains
Any kind of physical injury can cause strains and sprains around the heel and other foot areas of the body. This can lead to mild to severe forms of heel pain depending upon the severity of injury and areas affected with it.
Fracture is a major health condition which causes broken bones. This causes severe forms of pain with high intensity which needs immediate medical attention to control the condition under the expertise supervision and care.
Reactive arthritis is a chronic health condition caused by some kind of infection in the body. This leads to generate heel pain which requires medical care.
Heel Pad Inflammation
This health condition develops due to thinning of heel pads or due to heavy footsteps habit which puts extra stress around the heel area leading to heel pain issue.
Osteochondroses is a specific disorder which is primarily exists in children and adolescents. This health issue obstructs the growth of bones in the affected person. Heel pain is one of the symptoms of this health concern.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is one type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. However, this condition may cause stress over the heel area too. This causes inflammation to the vertebrae which generates severe pain and may cause disability too if necessary care and attention is not given on time.
Microtrauma in Heel’s Growth Plate
Microtrama in the growth plate of the heel bones caused by over usage or repetitive small traumas leads to heel pain. This issue is very common in children and teenagers who are more likely to indulge in physical activities. Children aging between 7 to 15 are the general victims of this kind of heel pain caused by the repetitive microtrauma.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A constant heel pain issue, lasting for more than weeks needs medical attention to cope up and relieve the condition fully in order to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Anyone suffering from intolerable heel pain issue must visit to a podiatric physician who is a trained foot surgeons or a physical therapist.
The doctor will do at first physical examination of your heel area to diagnose the actual reason of your heel pain. As per your condition and medical history they can ask for an X-ray test, MRI scan or blood test to detect an underlying issue. Once the real cause of heel pain diagnosed the treatment process will start accordingly.
The American Podiatric Medical Association is one of the leading health organization for the foot and ankle health issue which has proven its expertise in the treatment of different critical cases of heel pains with its team of trained podiatrists in countries like the United States and its territories.
The treatment of heel pain involves many steps and with a progression of the condition of the patient its treatment techniques are changed to offer the best possible comfort and relief to the patient and for early recovery too.
Most of the heel pain cases are treated with general conservative forms of treatment or non-surgical treatments such as, oral and injectable medications, tapping or strapping, exercises, especial shoe and orthotic devices application etc.
Only in severe cases where all the conservative treatment methods are failed the necessity of surgery is required. The total treatment and recovery period depends on the reasons of heel pain which may take a few weeks to months as well. Basically following treatment techniques are applied for treating heel pain health concern.
Cold Compress or Ice Pack
Application of ice pack or cold compress over the heel area will help to release the pain and provides immediate relief. Apply this cold therapy for 3 to 4 times in a day till heel pain disappears completely.
Physical therapy is an effective form of treatment for relieving health concerns related to bone pains. That is why it is recommended to take physical therapy to relieve the heel pain. This will stimulate the healing period and boosts the effectiveness of other medical treatments like oral and injected medications.
As per the causes of heel pain the period or duration of total physical therapy series will depend. This is a safe plus very effective method to reduce and remove heel pain.
Heel pain often occurs due to the stiffness in muscles and joints. So to remove this stiffness and for increasing the muscles and joints flexibility the podiatrist will do hands on movements of muscles and joints which will make it more strengthen and elastic.
Muscle Strengthening Exercises
It is the weakness of muscles consisting of the heel which leads to body imbalances and injury there on. Also, a weaker muscle raises the intensity of strain in a heel. Muscles strengthen exercises primarily focus on strengthening these muscles group to relive the strain on the heel.
Motion exercises are recommended by the physical therapist in the cases of movement issues related to foot and ankle. These exercises increases the flexibility of muscles and increases the motion of foot and ankle without any pain or trouble.
Application of cold water bottle and tennis balls are some of the examples of motion exercises that relives movement issues.
Brace or Splint Wear
Heel pain and different symptoms caused by this health issue can be reduced by wearing a splint or a brace. As per the symptoms, your doctor may recommend you to wear a splint at night and brace for heel support while performing different activities during the day. These supporting devices will ease the pain issue to a great extent.
Heel Cups or Wedges
Heel cups and wedges are recommended by the therapists to absorb the shock generated via foot movements. Also, it provides an artificial cushion to heel which helps to protect the heel from immense pressure from shock.
It is an improper footwear especially foot wears which is worn during different physical activities are responsible for heel pain and other heel related concerns. So to combat this issue your doctor will recommend you to wear special shoes as per different activities to reduce the pain severity.
Also, all worn out shoes and unfit shoes will be asked to stop wearing permanently.
It is different physical activities of the body that stimulates the heel pain and makes the condition worsen with time. So to relieve heel pain and its other symptoms rest is suggested to the patients especially from those movements which include excessive heel use like walking on hard surfaces, exercising and running.
Anti-inflammatory medication are needed to be injected if all other treatment methods fails to relieve the heel pain issue and its symptoms. These injections are directly given to the heel area which provides relief from pain for a few months not permanently.
In the very critical cases of heel pain when symptoms cannot be controlled with all above mentioned techniques and symptoms lies for more than 6 months then it requires the intervention of surgical procedure.
When surgery conducted basically it is done to treat plantar fascia, for removing bursa, spur, neuroma and other soft tissues growth. Mostly surgery is recommended in the cases of athletes and other people who are associated with active body movement professions so that they can get back to their work at the earliest possible time. It is done in the supervision of a podiatric surgeon or an orthopedic.
One can prevent the heel pain issue and many related symptoms with some effective proactive steps in their day to day life.
- By wearing different types of footwear based on different physical activities, heel pain issue can be prevented.
- Always footwear should be selected wisely as because an unfit and uncomfortable footwear is the primary factor for heel pain trouble. Buy foot wear which has enough shock absorbent soles, fit properly in all sides of your foot etc.
- Avoid wearing high heels or soles especially teenagers who have immature heel bones.
- Give rest to your body when you feel excessive stress on your feet to avoid the heel pain trigger.
- Don’t jump start any physical exercise like running, HIIT or weight lifting. Fist warm up your body so that your body prepares itself for final exercise pressure and your heels won’t have to suffer from sudden pressure.
- Over body weight or obese people are more likely to get a victim of heel pain issue so for avoiding this health risk they should reduce their weight proactively.
- While participating in a marathon or any athletic activities go by your pace and do not over pressurize your heels.
- Be careful while walking on hard and uneven surfaces.
Though the treatment of heel pain can relieve this health condition completely but it is essential for every individual to apply all the heel pain preventive measures in their day to day life to avoid this health trauma risk in future. For more information heel pain and treatment methods , you can visit Premier-Podiatry.comView Article Sources