What is heel pain?
Heel pain is a generic term used for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions affecting the heel, such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and Achilles tendonitis and is one of the most common injuries to the foot that podiatrists diagnose and treat. The plantar fasciitis component of heel pain can be caused by over stretching the muscular tissue in the arch of the foot and is a common complaint among people of all ages and which can become quite debilitating and prevent you from doing your day to day activities.
One of the key challenges sufferers face with heel pain and in particular plantar fasciitis is that the injury does not improve with time and complete rest. The reason being it’s almost impossible to stay off your feet and not walk.
What are some of the symptoms of heel pain?
Heel pain can appear suddenly or gradually evolve over a longer period of time. People that generally appear to suffer from heel pain are adults who either stand for their profession, are involved in regular intense exercise, are wearing incorrect footwear or are overweight.
Common symptoms can include intense pain and tenderness at the base of the heel or in the inner arch of the foot. Suffers tend to feel this immediately when taking their first steps of the day or after periods of rest. This is a result of the plantar fascia being at rest to suddenly stretched to its maximum when standing. As a consequence, any part of the structure that has mended overnight is instantly re aggravated.
Diagnosing Heel Pain
Whilst plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel pain, there are several other causes for similar symptoms. These include;
- Heel spur syndrome
- Heel pad syndrome
- Stress fracture of the Calcaneus (heel bone)
- Nerve compression/entrapment
- Achilles tendonitis
Causes of heel pain can be attributed to (but not limited to):
- Unsupportive footwear
- Overloading of the heel due to poor biomechanics
- Sudden increase/changes to activity
- Weight gain
However it is critical to note that it is only with a physical examination and a thorough understanding of a patient’s history by a podiatrist can a proper diagnosis be made, and the correct treatment implemented. Your Podiatrist will then work with you to develop a treatment plan to aid in reducing pain and inflammation, as well as setting long term treatment goals to ensure the pain doesn’t return.
What are the ways pain can be treated?
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