Heel pain is a common foot condition. It's usually felt as an intense pain when using the affected heel. Heel Pain
usually builds up gradually and gets worse over time. The pain is often severe and occurs when you
place weight on the heel. In most cases, only one heel is affected, although estimates suggest that around a third of people have pain in both heels. The pain is usually worse first thing in the
morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. Walking usually improves the pain, but it often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time. Some people may limp
or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel.
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to faulty structure of the foot. For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more
prone to developing plantar fasciitis. Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. This is particularly
evident when one?s job requires long hours on the feet. Obesity may also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with an inflammation of the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot. The inflammation of this arch area is called
plantar fasciitis. The inflammation maybe aggravated by shoes that lack appropriate support and by the chronic irritation that sometimes accompanies an athletic lifestyle. Achilles Tendinopathy, Pain
and inflammation of the tendon at the back of the heel that connects the calf muscle to the foot. Sever?s, Often found in children between the ages of 8 - 13 years and is an inflammation of the
calcaneal epiphyseal plate (growth plate) in the back of the heel. Bursitis, An inflamed bursa is a small irritated sack of fluid at the back of the heel. Other types of heel pain include soft tissue
growths, Haglunds deformity (bone enlargement at the back of the heel), bruises or stress fractures and possible nerve entrapment.
Your GP or podiatrist (a healthcare professional who specialises in foot care) may be able to diagnose the cause of your heel pain by asking about your symptoms and examining your heel and foot. You
will usually only need further tests if you have additional symptoms that suggest the cause of your heel pain is not inflammation, such as numbness or a tingling sensation in your foot - this could
be a sign of nerve damage in your feet and legs (peripheral neuropathy), your foot feels hot and you have a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above - these could be signs of a bone
infection, you have stiffness and swelling in your heel - this could be a sign of arthritis. Possible further tests may include, blood tests, X-rays - where small doses of radiation are used to
detect problems with your bones and tissues, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or ultrasound scan, which are more detailed scans.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatments to add to your stretching program include wearing good-quality shoes, icing the painful area, and massaging the arch. Do not walk barefoot; walk in shoes with good heel and arch supports
such as high-quality walking or running shoes. Keep a pair of shoes next to your bed so you can put them on before taking your first step. Your doctor may recommend that you wear an additional arch
support or a heel cup in the shoes. Icing your foot can help relieve pain. Rub a frozen bottle of water or an ice cup over the tender areas for five minutes two times each day. Massage your foot by
rolling a tennis, golf ball, or baseball along your sole and heel. This friction massage can help break up adhesions and stretch the plantar fascia. Do this for five minutes two times each day. If
you are a runner or just started a walking or running program, evaluate your training for errors such as warming up improperly, increasing mileage too quickly, running hills excessively, running on
surfaces that are too hard, or wearing broken down shoes. Adjusting your training program can help relieve your pain. While recovering from heel pain, walk or jog in a pool or crosstrain by biking
and swimming. These activities maintain your cardiovascular fitness without stressing your heel cord or plantar fascia. Heel pain takes time to go away. Be patient and remember that no treatment is a
substitute for STRETCHING!
Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to non-surgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of non-surgical treatment, you continue
to have heel pain, surgery will be considered. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial for you. No matter what
kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Therefore, you will need to continue with preventive measures. Wearing supportive
shoes, stretching, and using custom orthotic devices are the mainstay of long-term treatment for plantar fasciitis.
It may not be possible to prevent all cases of heel pain. However, there are some easy steps that you can take to avoid injury to the heel and prevent pain. Whenever possible, you should wear shoes
that fit properly and support the foot, wear the right shoes for physical activity, stretch your muscles before exercising, pace yourself during physical activity, maintain a healthy diet, rest when
you feel tired or when your muscles ache, maintain a healthy weight.