Are you experiencing heel pain, but don’t know the ways to overcome it? Then this is for you!
Heel pain is very common and there are many factors causing this foot problem. The person suffering from this problem would have maximum pain in the morning, which will subside as one would walk a little.
The pain is experienced just below plantar fasciitis or behind it where the Achilles tendon is connected to the heel bone.
This foot problem will affect many of your routine activities if not treated in time. It will not pose any major health problem as underlying reasons are not very severe but it would be nearly disabling in some cases.
Heel pain would mostly disappear on its own over a period of time but certain precautions would help you avoid this problem or overcome it soon.
Main Cause Of Heel Pain
The human foot comprises 26 bones. The heel bone, also known as calcaneus is the largest of all. The design of the heel bone is to support the foot and the entire weight of the body while walking, standing, or running.
The impact of your weight is taken up by the heel bone when you walk or run. It gives a bounce to your foot for the next stride once it touches the ground.
This bone is vulnerable to damage as the impact caused would be 1.25 times of body weight when you walk and almost 2.75 times when you run.
Hence, there is a lot of stress exerted on this bone during the course of the day due to various activities and that can be the main reason for frequent heel pain experienced by people of all age groups.
More Heel Pain Causes
Apart from being stressed, there are many causes to trigger heel pain and some of the major causes are given here:
1. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fascia is the ligament type of bowstring that extends from the calcaneus to the foot tip. It is a strong and flexible ligament made up of soft tissues. When there is too much stretch applied on these soft tissues due to foot movement, it gets inflamed resulting in heel pain.
In some cases, this pain may also go beyond the heels where the cramps may be experienced in calf muscles due to tightening of the Achilles tendon. In this type of foot problem, the pain is usually experienced after a long period of resting.
2. Heel Spurs
The lining covering the heels may break due to excessive stretching. There would be patches of the broken lining that may cause the pain. This condition is common in people who are obese or indulge in excessive running or jogging. It is also commonly found in athletes.
3. Heel Bumps
It is common with teenagers. The main reason is too much exertion before the heel bone is fully matured. The bone rubs a lot and gets affected. Those with flat feet may come across this condition more often.
Girls wearing high heels would also suffer from this condition as the heel bone is not matured enough to take the impact.
3. Increased Pronation
This condition occurs when there is some specific change in walking style due to injury in the back, knees, or hips. The foot may roll inwards towards the arch due to a walking style disorder. This may exert unwelcomed stretch in the tendon causing heel pain.
4. Stress Fracture
When there is overuse of heel bone due to heavy manual work or sports, the repetitive thrust would result in the condition called stress fracture. The fracture in the metatarsal foot bone is commonly experienced by runners. Another cause of stress fracture is osteoporosis.
5. Achilles Tendinitis
This condition stays for a longer period. The tendon connecting heel bone to foot experiences microscopic tears due to lifestyle and activity level. These tears slowly develop into long term tendon breakages. The condition gets painful with time.
Gout is associated with a higher level of uric acid in the blood. When the level increases much beyond the permitted range, the crystals of uric acid are formed around the joints. This would result into chronic pain. The heel pain in this case stays for the period of a gout attack.
Treating The Heel Pain
Most of the people suffering from heel pain would get relief by conservative treatment. There are many home remedies too that would help in reducing the pain. Here are some of them:
- Ice application on the affected area twice daily for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Resting the foot for quick repair.
- Try the shoes that offer comfort and fit well.
- Make use of the shoe inserts to offer an extra cushion below the heel.
- Pain relief medicine may work for instant relief followed by proper care for long-term benefit.
Above lifestyle changes may bring relief to a major extent but if it is not working then you need to see the doctor for detailed treatment.
Signals To Call A Doctor
Though heel pain won’t pose a major health problem, one may call a doctor if –
- Heel pain is experienced along with fever and numbness.
- There is swelling along with pain.
- Affects your normal walking style.
- You may experience difficulty in standing upright.
- Heel pain is experienced even in the resting position.
- The pain persists for more than a week.
Following prevention tips would keep the heel pain in check:
- Do muscle stretches before indulging in heavy exercise.
- Select the right shoes with sufficient support and appropriate fit.
- Maintain a healthy weight to lower the impact on heels.
- Consume healthy food.
- Take frequent breaks while exercising.
- Have more water.
Heel pain can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding stress impact on foot muscles. Next time your heel starts paining, relax and let the muscle heal to overcome this chronic condition soon. In case of prolonged pain, contact your doctor for faster relief.