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Heel pain

What is heel pain?

Heel pain can occur in either the front, back or bottom of the heel. It can vary in severity from mild to disabling pain. Heel pain is often the result of problems with your biomechanics (your walking gait) which place stress on your heel bone and the soft tissues attached to it. The stress may also be the result of an injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly fitting footwear; or carrying excess weight. There are many causes of heel pain; therefore good treatment will depend on first identifying the exact cause.

 

The most common type of heel pain: Plantar Fasciitis

The most common type of heel pain is tissue inflammation of the skin under the heel and arch of your foot. This area of skin is called the plantar fascia and therefore inflammation is known as plantar fasciitis. Many people with plantar fasciitis report more pain after periods of sitting, or on getting up in the morning. This pain may reduce after a short period of walking, as this action stretches the plantar fascia. However, with extended periods of standing or walking it can become painful again.

 

When to seek medical advice

If you are experiencing unexplained or prolonged heel pain, your podiatrist or orthopedic foot specialist should be able to help you.
As with most medical conditions, seeking early treatment is the best course of action. If however you have experienced symptoms for an extended period of time, there are still treatment options available to you.

 

What will my treatment involve?

Your consultant podiatric, or orthopedic foot and ankle, surgeon will firstly examine the area and may perform an X-ray to rule out problems of the bone.

Early treatment might involve oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medication, ice, exercise and shoe recommendations, taping or strapping, or use of shoe inserts or orthotic devices. Taping or strapping supports the foot, placing stressed muscles and tendons in a restful position.

A functional orthotic device may be prescribed for correcting biomechanical imbalance, controlling excessive pronation (inward roll of the foot), and supporting of the ligaments and tendons attaching to the heel bone. It will effectively treat the majority of heel and arch pain without the need for surgery.

Only in a relatively small number of cases are more advanced treatments or surgery needed.

 

How do I arrange my appointment?

Simply call us on 01245 253760 to book your initial consultation. If you are using private medical insurance to cover your treatment costs you will usually require a referral letter from your GP. Therefore, please check with your insurance provider what their requirements are before booking.

 

Relieving heel pain tips:

  • If you are experiencing painful heels try wearing your shoes around your house in the evening rather than slippers, socks or barefoot. This will provide your heel with additional support.
  •  In general, avoid going barefoot on hard surfaces.
  •  Avoid uneven walking surfaces or stepping on rocks as much as possible.
  •  Try gentle calf stretches for 20 to 30 seconds on each leg. This is best done barefoot, leaning forward towards a wall with one foot forward and one foot back.
  •  Purchase and maintain good shoes; correctly fitting at the front, back and sides of your feet; shock-absorbent soles; rigid shanks (narrow part of the sole under the instep); and supportive heel counter (the back section of the shoe which cups and supports the heel to avoid excessive sideways movement).
  •  Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on the heels or soles.
  •  Wear the correct shoes for each activity.
  •  Begin any exercise program slowly; don’t go too far or too fast. If you have not exercised in a long time, consult your physician before starting a new exercise program.
  •  Stretch each foot and Achilles tendon before and after exercise.
  •  Vary the incline on a treadmill during exercise. Nobody walks uphill all the time.
  •  If it hurts, stop rather than trying to “work through the pain.”
  •  If you have excess weight, loosing this can help avoid/ reduce heel pain.
  • If the pain persists longer than one month, you should visit a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon for evaluation and treatment.