Heel pain occurs if the heel is overused or damaged and can range from minor to debilitating. In most instances, a doctor should be consulted to properly diagnose the cause for heel pain.
Remember that the foot and ankle are comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints and approximately more than 100 tendons. The heel is considered as the biggest bone in the foot.
Typical causes of heel pain
Always bear in mind that heel pain has various causes that are usually linked with overuse of the heel bone. The heel can end up strained by pounding the feet on hard surfaces, using shoes that poorly fit and being overweight. The strain can irritate the bones, tendons or muscles in the heel. The other common causes of heel pain include the following:
- Plantar fasciitis – this condition develops once the tendinous tissue that connects the heel to the ball of the foot swells up. Plantar fasciitis also develops among athletes who jog or run. It can also occur after wearing ill-fitting shoes.
- Heel spurs – these develop once the lining covering the heel is persistently stretched out. Once this occurs, the pieces of the lining might break off. The spurs usually develop among individuals who regularly jog or run as well as those who are obese.
- Achilles tendonitis – this can occur due to the inflammation of the Achilles tendon that travels along the back part of the heel. This condition is common among those who have active lifestyles especially activities that involves frequent jogging or running.
- Extensive pronation – this is described as the rolling inward of the foot and the tendons and ligaments at the back part of the heel are overly stretched. This can occur if injuries to the hip, back or knees affect the way the individual walks.
When to consult a doctor
If heel pain develops, home remedies are initially tried such as rest to alleviate the symptoms. In case the pain persists within 2-3 weeks, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor.
Get in touch with a doctor right away for the following:
- Pain is intense
- Pain abruptly starts
- Reddening in the heel
- Difficulty walking due to the pain in the heel
Management of heel pain
Once an individual develops heel pain, there are several methods that can be done at home to relieve the discomfort such as the following:
- Instruct the individual to rest as much as possible
- Provide over-the-counter pain medications
- Apply an ice pack on the affected heel for 10-15 minutes at least 2 times throughout the day.
- Wear shoes that properly fit
- A night splint can be used which stretches the foot while the individual is sleeping
- Utilize heel lifts or shoe inserts to minimize the pain