Heel Pain

Heel pain area

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

Heel pain is a common problem. It can be quite distressing. Those who suffer from heel pain may find it difficult to go about routine tasks because of the inability to walk normally. Since the body’s entire weight is borne by feet, particularly the heels, having serious pain in this area can limit mobility to a great extent. Fortunately, in a majority of cases, such pain is caused by conditions that can be successfully treated. Some cases even resolve on their own and without any specific treatment.

 

What Is Heel Pain?

Heel pain areaPatients may experience pain in the heels of the feet for a variety of reasons. The condition may be temporary or chronic, depending on what is responsible for it. Often, patients tend to ignore the pain and carry on with their lives until it becomes severe and begins to impact them in a big way.

Often, resolving this condition or alleviating the pain is a simple matter of wearing better fitting footwear. In other cases, pain in the heels may be one symptom among many of a deeper medical problem. If you are experiencing slight pain in the heels, do seek help before the condition worsens.

 

What Are The Causes Of Heel Pain?

There is a wide range of potential causes for heel pain. For instance, your pain might be caused by inflammation of the band of ligament supporting the arch of your foot. This is, in fact, a very common condition known as plantar fasciitis. Sometimes, such pain is caused by injury. Athletes or sportsmen who repeatedly jump and land on their feet have a greater tendency to suffer from heel pain as a result. The same may be said of individuals who must remain on their feet all day long at work. The problem may be exacerbated by ill-fitting footwear. This condition is also more common among middle-aged individuals.

Those who have abnormalities in their feet that cause them to modify their normal gait may also develop heel pain at some point. Examples include those with flat feet. Even being overweight or obese can precipitate heel pain. After all, the additional load of an overweight body has to be borne by the feet.

A comprehensive list of recognised causes and risk factors for heel pain is provided below:

  • Ageing.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Achilles tendonitis.
  • Heel spur.
  • Bone tumour.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Injuries such as fractures or sprains.
  • Tight calf muscles.
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes or ones that do not provide adequate support to your heels. For instance, flat soles without any cushioning at the heel. High heels are also known to cause heel pain.
  • Repeated stress as a result of activities that put pressure on the heels. This includes sports, running, dancing, gymnastics, etc. This also applies to individuals whose jobs force them to stay on their feet all day long.
  • Having flat feet.
  • Osteochondrosis.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
  • Osteomyelitis.
  • Peripheral neuropathy.
  • Bursitis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Reactive arthritis.
  • Paget’s disease of bone.

 

What Are The Signs?

The pain may be focused in the base of the heel where it makes contact with the ground or it may focused at the back of the heel. This distinction is important to take note of because the causes for both forms of heel pain can be entirely different. For instance, if you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis, the pain is likely to manifest in the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon is located. On the other hand, pain at the base of the heel may be caused by a bony outgrowth that irritates the tissues at that spot.

Pain may develop gradually over time or it may set in suddenly. This, too, is dependent on the actual cause. For instance, if your heel pain is the outcome of the wear and tear associated with ageing, you will find that is sets in slowly and gradually worsens. On the other hand, if you have injured yourself during an activity like dancing or athletics, the pain is more likely to appear suddenly. If the cause is a medical problem such as arthritis, you may have a number of other symptoms alongside the pain in your heels.

 

Should I Be Concerned About Complications?

When heel pain is severe, the patient will not be able to put any weight on the affected heel. This could seriously limit mobility and productivity. The patient may not be able to participate in physical activities and their schoolwork or job may suffer as well. To compensate for the pain in one heel, the patient may start to walk in an awkward manner. If this is kept up over an extended period of time, they may develop problems in other parts of the body as well.

 

How Is Heel Pain Diagnosed? How Can It Be Treated?

Heel pain xrayPatients often dismiss mild heel pain or attempt to relieve it with home remedies. This may help to a certain extent, but if the cause is a medical problem, you must seek treatment. The best way to do this is to first get a formal diagnosis from a specialist. A physical examination of the affected foot along with a medical history of the patient will help to clarify the nature of the condition and its causes. It is important to examine the patient’s footwear as well. If the podiatrist suspects a bone abnormality such as a spur, tumour or fracture, an X-ray can confirm this.

Ice packs often help to soothe heel pain. However, this remedy only provides temporary relief. Your physiotherapist may advise you to perform a set of stretching exercises to correct muscle imbalances, if any. Where the pain is intense or distressing, medications can help to relieve it and calm the inflammation. You may also be advised to exchange your footwear for something more comfortable and supportive. Alternatively, you may need to place gel pads in your shoes in order to cushion your heels.

 

Treatment & Prevention

Treatment can be surgical and non-surgical. Non-surgical treatment involves stretching exercises, not going barefoot, putting ice on frequent basis, limiting activities, modifying shoe you wear, and medication.If these non-surgical treatment options do not yield desired results then surgery will become necessary. In such, situation you will have to discuss your options with your medical practitioner.Irrespective of the treatment method you use, the underlying cause for the pain may well remain. As such, it will be necessary to take preventive measures to recurrence of the problem. Few of the thing you will have to do are wear supportive shoes, do stretching, and make use of customized orthotic devices.

Heel pain is one of the most common complaints that physiotherapists and podiatrists deal with. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and heel spurs are the three most common causes. If you are suffering from heel pain, you can try to attend to it with simple home remedies like those mentioned above. However, if these fail to provide lasting relief, consult a podiatrist to find out what is responsible for your pain. Most likely, the problem can be treated with either exercises and/or medications. It is also helpful to wear supportive, comfortable footwear. Some patients may need orthotics or special inserts.

 

Facts

  • There are 52 bones in your feet, which is almost 25% of all the bones in your body.
  • On an average, a person would have walked an equivalent of 75,000 miles by the time he/she reaches the age of 50.
  • Roughly 10% of the entire global population suffers from Plantar Fasciitis, one of the most common reasons for heel pain.

Facts

  • Women are more likely to develop heel spurs owing to the kind of footwear they wear (high heels) and men are more likely to have Achilles tendonitis since they participate more in sporting activities.
  • In 90% of cases of heel pain, the painful symptoms are greatly reduced without surgical intervention. Proper rest, orthotic supports, and supplements are enough.
  • Heel-height as small as 2.5 inches can increase the pressure of the forefoot by 75%.

Facts

  • Around 1 in 3 people who are aged 65 years or more are affected by this problem.
  • This type of pain frequently occurs in children in the 6 to 14 age group when their feet grow.
  • About 10% of all people may well suffer due to heel pain in their lifetime.

Related Conditions

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • RICE technique – rest, ice, compression, and elevation are quite effective in treating heel pains.
  • Footwear, especially the ones used for jogging or exercising, should provide proper support and cushion to the feet.
  • If the heel pain is not subsiding within 2 weeks, refer to the doctor or podiatrist.
  • Wearing night-splint on the feet helps get rid of morning stiffness in the feet joints.’
Don'ts
  • Continue to  stand or walk for long periods.
  • Wear high heels but also don’t wear complete  flat shoes or go barefoot.
  • Put too much weight on your foot.
  • Ignore the symptoms of foot or heel ache, especially if you are diabetic.

 

 

 

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11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
Isagenix diet weight loss
How are BMI and BMR different and what do these numbers mean? BMI and BMR are two important metrics that provide a clear picture of your body's metabolism and also…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
BoneMarrow-Biopsy
Bone Marrow Biopsy Bone marrow biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from hip…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…