The heel is the largest of the 26 bones that make up your foot. Injury—or just plain overuse—can lead to heel pain, which can range from mild to disabling. Home remedies are possible, but you may need to see a foot specialist to get treatment.
Frequent Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain has a plethora of potential causes. Here’s a list of several different possibilities:
- Plantar Fasciitis: Damage to your plantar fascia ligament as the result of too much pressure on your feet, causing stiffness and pain.
- Strains and sprains: These are common and often the result of physical activity. Depending on the specific incident, they range from minor to severe.
- Fracture: A broken bone. A fracture is deemed a medical emergency and urgent care may be required.
- Achilles tendonitis: This is an overuse injury and occurs when the tendon attaching the calf muscles to the heel becomes inflamed or painful.
- Bursitis: Fluid-filled sacs found around your joints, called bursae, can surround areas where tendons, skin, and muscle tissues meet bones.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: A form of arthritis that primarily affects your spine. It causes severe inflammation of the vertebrae that can possibly lead to chronic pain and disability.
- Osteochondroses: Disorders that affect the growth of bones in children and adolescents.
- Reactive arthritis: Triggered in the body by an infection.
When to Contact a Doctor
If you do develop heel pain, try some home remedies, including resting, to help alleviate your symptoms. After two to three weeks, if the pain doesn’t subside, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Contact your doctor immediately if:
- Your pain is severe
- You pain starts suddenly
- There is redness or swelling in your heel
- You can’t walk due to the pain in your heel
Common Treatments for Heel Pain
Try these at-home methods to help ease any heel pain you may have developed:
- Rest as much as possible
- Twice a day, apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes to your heel
- Take over-the-counter pain medications
- Make sure you are wearing shoes that fit properly
- Stretch your foot while you sleep using a night splint
- Buy shoe inserts or heel lifts to reduce heel pain
If these at-home remedies don’t relieve your pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Doctors and foot specialists will do a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. They’ll decide if an X-ray is necessary to pinpoint the cause of your pain. This will help them provide the most effective treatment.
Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications (either taken by mouth or injected into your foot) if your pain is severe. Foot support, like special footwear, may also be recommended by your doctor.
Complications Related to Heel Pain
Heel pain can affect your daily movements and you may even find it disabling. It can change your walking motion too, which can make you more likely to have unstable balance and fall. This can make you prone to other injuries.
How to Prevent Heel Pain
Full-proof prevention may not exist in all cases, but here are some simple steps you can take to try to prevent heel pain and avoid injury:
- Only wear shoes that support your feet and fit properly
- Wear the correct shoes for physical activity
- Stretch before any physical activity
- Always pace yourself during physical activity
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Try to rest when your muscles ache or you feel tired
- Maintain a healthy weight
Are you experiencing heel pain? Heel pain can be annoying and hindering, but is definitely treatable. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.