Heel pain can be a debilitating complaint stopping you carrying out the activities you want to do.
Causes of heel pain.
It can be brought on by simply walking or standing for a longer time than you normally do, for example if you’ve been on a city break or you’ve done a walk for charity, etc.
If you’re a runner and you’ve recently increased your mileage to do a park run, a marathon or even an ultramarathon then unprepared tissues can be stressed and cause the pain.
Carrying extra weight also puts greater loads and stresses on the body and ultimately down to the feet which can lead to heel pain.
Many people in an attempt to loose weight use exercise to help which once again can lead to developing heel pain.
The term Plantar Fasciitis is often used to describe Heel Pain but the plantar fascia is only one structure within the complex anatomy of the foot. There are over forty reasons why you could get heel pain.
Let’s start with the bones and in particular the heel bone this can be damaged by landing incorrectly and possibly fracturing it.
Severs disease, which is usually found in children, is an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel which can of course cause the pain.
All our bones are held together by ligaments and if any of these are over stressed then this again can be the cause of the pain.
The base of the foot has several layers of muscles and any damage or over stressing of these can cause heel pain.
Connecting our muscles to the bones we have the tendons and again if these are over stressed this will result in pain.
All of these structures are controlled by our nerves and if any of these are impinged, such as the Baxter’s nerve which runs down the outside of the foot and under the heel, this can also lead to heel pain.
Impingement of nerves in the lower back can also cause heel pain.
What can we do about it?
It is imperative that a correct diagnosis is made of where the pain is coming from. Your local Podiatrist can help you with this.
Once the correct diagnosis has been made then a treatment plan will be formulated.
What will the treatment consist of?
After a full history of the complaint has been taken further assessments will be carried out. This will then inform and guide your treatment plan.
Typical treatments may consist of one or more of the following.
Plantar fascial taping
The use of taping can support the foot and prevent stretching which reduces the stress on the structures along the length of the foot which in turn prevents overloading of the injured area and therefore allows time for recovery.
If strapping is successful in reducing the pain then this can be a good indicator that orthoses will be of benefit in the medium to long term.
Stretching and Exercises
A typical plan might include: Stretching and flexibility exercises to help the tendon heal completely and avoid long-term pain. Strengthening exercises to help you rebuild tendon strength and avoid future injuries will also be given.
Orthoses (if required)
Orthoses (insoles) are not always required in the treatment of heel pain.
No two people are ever the same so an individual treatment plan will be formulated after the initial assessment. If orthoses are indicated then the options will be discussed at this point.
Assess the outcomes and tweak or add further treatment.
Once the treatment plan has been finalised then feedback is essential to ensure the best possible outcome, therefore we will book you in for a review and discuss how you are progressing.
At this stage we will assess your progress and either tweak or increase the intensity of your treatment.
Follow up with strengthening to prevent future problems.
Strength testing will be carried out and appropriate exercises will be given where any imbalances are found to allow better functioning of joints and muscles. This may reduce the chances of the injury reoccurring.
Start your journey to pain free heels today.