THE FACTS ON HEEL PAIN:
WHAT IS HEEL PAIN?
Heel pain is pain in the heel area that can vary in severity and location. It is most common in adults.
The heel is the first bone to contact the ground when walking and takes the full force of impact and the resulting shock of bearing weight during motion, resulting sometimes in sore heel pain. General heel pain tends to dissipate overnight and can reappear or worsen during prolonged periods of walking or standing.
Usually with rest, sore heels will resolve themselves. However, when you ignore the pain and continue partaking in activities that worsen the pain, this can result in chronic pain.
WHAT CAUSES HEEL PAIN?
Foot heel pain can generally be divided into two categories: pain on the bottom of the heel and pain behind the heel.
Pain on the bottom of the heel may be the result of:
- Bruising: It may be possible that you’ve recently bruised your heel, by stepping on a hard object like a stone. You can experience bruising pain, even if there is no obvious discolouration.
- Plantar fasciitis: One of the most common causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis can be a very painful condition. It is caused by inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament, the tissue that connects the base of your toes to your heel bone. It is generally most painful in the morning after waking up and tends to get worse as the condition persists.
- Heel spur: Heel spurs, which are abnormal bone growths coming off the heel, can also cause heel pain.
- Other causes such as repetitive stress or shock to the heel, standing for prolonged periods and osteoarthritis.
Pain behind your heel may be the result of over-exerting yourself while running, or wearing shoes that rub or cut into the back of the heel. Pain behind the heel may build slowly over time, causing the skin to thicken, redden, and swell. A bump on the back of the heel, that feels tender and warm to the touch, may develop. This type of pain will generally flare up at the start of an activity and often hurts too much to wear normal shoes.
HOW TO HELP PREVENT HEEL PAIN?
There are a few ways you can help prevent heel pain, including:
- Wearing insoles or inserts in your shoes to help control abnormal foot motion and lessen the stress of everyday activities on your heel.
- Wearing properly fitting, supportive shoes
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Making sure you give your body time to warm up when you exercise, and practicing good stretching techniques
HOW TO RELIEVE HEEL PAIN?
If you’re looking for treatments for heel pain relief:
- Rest: Taking a break from any physical activities that may be aggravating your condition.
- Stretch and exercise: It’s often recommended to try strengthening and stretch exercises to strengthen and improve the flexibility of your Achilles tendon and supporting structures. One helpful stretch can be leaning forward against a wall with the foot flat on the floor and the heel slightly elevated, and using an insert beneath your heel.
- Use ice: Place ice on the back of the heel to reduce inflammation and pain
- Add shoe inserts or orthotic devices in your shoes if you have heel pain when walking: Stress on your heel can be reduced by an insert that elevates the heel and cushions the force felt by the Achilles tendon. Try Dr. Scholl’s Orthotics for Heel Pain.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed