Heel pain, though rarely indicative of a serious problem, can be a real irritant, because it typically affects the underside or back of your heel and can make regular activities like walking and exercise difficult.
The human foot is made up of over two dozen bones, which absorb the impact of nearly three times our body weight when running, so our feet are very susceptible to the damage that causes heel pain. Typically, this pain is not caused by a single injury, but repeated stress to the bottom of the foot or heel from ill-fitting footwear, stretching of the plantar fascia or bone spurs. Individuals with excessively flat or high-arched feet are much more likely to develop heel and foot problems without properly supportive shoes or sole inserts.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes and occurs when the soft tissue on the bottom of the foot is stretched too far and becomes inflamed, typically near the back of the heel where it is anchored. Patients with this condition also often experience calf and foot cramps. Heel bursitis is another common cause of heel pain caused by the pressure from your shoes, often high heels. This will cause deep pain that feels like it is in inside or at the back of the heel and can even cause the Achilles tendon to swell. Over time, pain increases, especially at the end of the day for individuals who are often on their feet.
Patients can seek a wide variety of treatments for heel pain, depending on the severity of the pain. Simple remedies usually include icing the affected area, avoid walking around barefoot, and modifications to your shoes to offer better support. For more serious cases, taping your heal or wearing night splints can help restore the foot to its natural state and reduce excessive stretching or further inflammation. In very severe cases that are cause long term permanent damage, you may require treatment through surgery or prescriptions. However, this is not common and you should seek medical advice before considering the options listed above. For more information on heel pain and how to prevent or treat it see the following articles;
- Heel Pain: Causes, Prevention and Treatments, MedicalNewsToday
- Heal Pain (Plantar Fasciitis), Foot Health Facts
- Heel Pain, Mayo Clinic