What Is Heel Pain?
The term “heel pain” refers to physical discomfort that affects the back or underside of the heel. It often makes activities like walking and standing difficult or uncomfortable.
Approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population struggles with heel pain. If you’ve been dealing with a lot of discomfort and pain in the back of the heel, you’re not alone.
There are several reasons why you might struggle with heel pain. Fortunately, there are also lots of solutions to minimize your symptoms so you can feel more comfortable as you go about your daily life.
Read on to learn more about the causes of heel pain, how you can prevent it, and how it can be treated.
What are common Types of Heel Pain?
Heel pain comes in a few different varieties, each with its own distinct symptoms. The following are the most common heel pain causes:
People develop plantar fasciitis when their plantar fascia becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is a strip of connective tissue that stretches down the center of the foot and connects your heel to the base of your toes.
Plantar fasciitis is often caused by wearing ill-fitting or poor-quality shoes. If you stand for long periods of time, run, jump, or walk in these shoes, you may be irritating the plantar fascia and contributing to your heel pain.
If your heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis, you will likely feel discomfort under the heel. It may be mild at first but will often get worse over time.
When plantar fasciitis goes unaddressed for too long, you may develop a heel spur at the place where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. Heel spurs, also known as calcium deposits, are bony protrusions that can trigger heel pain.
This condition can often be treated fairly quickly. If it’s not addressed, though, it can become chronic and may require surgery.
Achilles tendonitis is another inflammatory condition that affects your Achilles tendon. Your Achilles tendon is a piece of tissue that connects your heel bone and calf muscles.
If you overuse your Achilles tendon (by doing lots of running, jumping, etc.), you may end up with irritation, inflammation, and heel pain.
This issue is especially common among those who do not play sports or exercise regularly. It also affects those who do not warm up properly or who do not wear the proper footwear for their activity of choice.
How to Prevent Heel Pain
If you’ve dealt with heel pain in the past but have since recovered, you probably want to do whatever you can to keep it away. Here are some of the most effective strategies you can use to prevent future heel pain:
Wear the Right Shoes
As you may have deduced from reading through the heel pain causes described above, wearing proper shoes can significantly reduce your risk of developing conditions like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and Achilles tendonitis.
High-quality, supportive shoes are especially important for people who stand all day as part of their jobs, as well as active people who regularly play sports or exercise at the gym.
Get your shoes fitted by a professional, and make sure they provide a sufficient amount of cushion. This helps to absorb shock and minimizes strain on your tendons and muscles.
Avoid going barefoot, too. If you have a tendency to exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, without shoes on, now is the time to change that. You’re not doing your feet and heels any favors.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Those who are overweight or obese are more prone to heel pain and foot pain than those who are at a healthy body weight. Carrying around extra weight puts extra stress on your heels, as well as the tendons and other connective tissues that surround them.
If you know you need to lose a few pounds, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to come up with a plan that works for you and your lifestyle and sets you up for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
Always take the time to warm up properly before you exercise or play sports.
Spend a few minutes getting your blood flowing and doing exercises that prepare your feet and ankles for the activity you’re about to do. It’s worth it to spend a few minutes warming up if it protects you from an injury that could take you out of the game for weeks or months, right?
Best Heel Pain Treatments
If your heel pain is ongoing, you may need to consult a professional to address it. The following are some of the most effective treatments a podiatrist may recommend to combat heel pain:
Custom orthotics can provide a high level of support and protect your feet. This is especially true when you’re standing all day at work or running around while playing your favorite sport.
If you decide you want custom orthotics, you must meet with a licensed podiatrist for the best results. They will evaluate your feet and create a pair of orthotic shoe inserts that offer maximum support and are specially designed to meet your needs.
Multiwave Locked System (or MLS) Laser Therapy is a special treatment that reduces pain and inflammation. It yields great results and can be used to target the heel and minimize symptoms of conditions like Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
Regenerative medicine techniques like platelet-rich plasma (or PRP) therapy can also be useful for combating heel pain.
PRP therapy uses a person’s own blood, which carries substances like proteins, growth factors, and collagen, all of which help to speed up the healing process. It allows the cells to work faster to repair damaged tissues and can combat chronic pain.
Find Heel Pain Relief Today
Are you ready to say goodbye to heel pain and foot pain? If so, we’re here to help at Advanced Ankle and Foot.
Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon.