Various illnesses, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, can bring on heel discomfort. A typical foot and ankle complaint is a hurting heel. Over time, pain is reduced by stretching, orthotics, and rest. If you don’t address and neglect heel discomfort, you could develop persistent issues that will take longer to heal. Surgery is rarely required for heel discomfort.
What is heel pain?
A common foot and ankle issue is heel pain. Behind or beneath the heel, there may be pain. Numerous conditions can cause heel discomfort, including:
- Plantar fasciitis is one
- Tendonitis of the flexor or Achilles muscles
- Bone growths
- Sever’s illness (mainly in children 8-14 years old)
- Stress fractures
- Swelling tendons
Nonsurgical treatments are effective for most painful heel issues, but your body requires time to heal. You should seek medical attention to assist you in pinpointing the precise source of your heel pain so that the right course of treatment can be started. Walking and participating in regular activities can be challenging when you have heel pain.
How common is heel pain?
Heel discomfort affects more than 2 million Americans each year. The issue impacts the ages and genders of all people.
Where does heel pain develop?
Anywhere in the heel may be in pain, sore, or tender. Typically, you get heel pain:
- In the back of the heel
- Under the heel
- Within the actual heel bone
What causes pain behind the heel?
Several issues can bring on back heel discomfort:
- Achilles tendinitis: The Achilles tendon, which joins the calf muscle to the heel bone, is a fibrous tissue. It is the longest and strongest tendon in the body. Basketball players and runners are more likely to get Achilles tendonitis. This overuse injury causes tendon inflammation. The back of the heel becomes painful, swollen, and stiff due to tendonitis
- Bursitis: Bursitis develops when bursae, the plural form of a bursa, swell. These sacs provide joint protection and permit easy movement. The back of your heel could feel sore and bruise-like. Bursitis often develops as a result of prolonged standing
- Haglund’s deformity: An enlarged bony lump, also known as a pump bump, can develop in the heel’s back due to persistent inflammation and irritation. Pumps and other shoes with higher heels might exacerbate the pain and bump
- Sever’s disease (calcaneal apophysitis): Inactive children between the ages of 8 and 14, Sever’s disease is a common source of heel discomfort. Children who engage in sports that include a lot of running and jumping are more likely to experience this issue. The growth plate in the heel’s rear becomes irritated due to increased sports activity
What causes pain beneath the heel?
The following conditions can result in pain beneath the heel:
- Bone bruise (contusion): Stepping on a hard, pointy object might cause damage to the thick heel padding. Even if there is no visible discoloration, walking will cause your heel to feel sore. Both a stress fracture and Sever’s disease can result in discomfort that runs along the bottom, side, and back of the heel
- Plantar fasciitis: Heel discomfort is most commonly caused by plantar fasciitis, which is this condition. It happens when the fascia, a band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot (the plantar surface), rips or strains. This painful ailment is more likely to occur in those who frequently run and jump. Common irritants include treadmills and harsh surfaces (like concrete) used for work or exercise
- Heel spurs: These are bony growth that can develop on the heel bone due to persistent plantar fasciitis. Although some people experience pain, heel spurs are typically not uncomfortable
What are the risk factors for heel pain?
Heel discomfort can be brought on by anything that causes a lot of strain and pressure on your foot. Both your gait pattern (foot mechanics) and the structure of your feet have a role.
If you can relate to any of the following:
- You are overweight (have obesity
- Have high or flat arches, foot or ankle arthritis, or flat feet
- Run or jump a lot while playing sports or working out
- Stand a lot, especially on surfaces made of concrete
- Put on insufficiently cushioned or arch-supported shoes
What are the symptoms of heel pain?
Depending on the reason, heel pain can have various symptoms.
- A bony growth on the heel
- Color change (bruising or redness)
- Aches when getting up from a sitting or resting position
How is heel pain diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and perform a physical checkup. X-rays may also be taken to look for joint injury, bone fractures, arthritis, and bone alignment. These may disclose soft tissue issues that X-rays are unable to show. Rarely could you require an ultrasound or MRI.
How is heel pain managed or treated?
The majority of heel pain issues resolve over time with nonsurgical therapies. Therapies concentrate on reducing stress and strain on the heel, reducing tension and inflammation, and improving foot flexibility. These remedies consist of the following:
- Steroid injections: They can reduce swelling and pain. Steroid injections for tendon issues should be administered sparingly, if ever; nonetheless, they may be beneficial for bursitis and plantar fasciitis
- Orthotic devices: Shoe inserts (orthotics) purchased over the counter or built to help relieve heel pressure. Wearing a splint at night can comfort some people, especially if they have morning pain. For more severe symptoms, a walking boot may be required. You might also need to switch to more supportive footwear for everyday wear and exercise
- Painkillers: Ice packs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) reduce pain and swelling
- Physical therapy: Soft tissue adhesions can be removed using massage, physical therapy, and ultrasound therapy
- Stretching exercises: Your doctor can demonstrate heel stretches for you for stiff tendons and muscles
- Taping: To Use athletic or medical tape to support the foot arch or heel
- Surgery is infrequently required to treat the majority of heel pain reasons
How can you prevent heel pain?
Heel discomfort is very common in runners. Your foot and heel tendons must remain flexible to avoid heel discomfort or stop it from returning. Wear supportive shoes that are correctly fitted and stretch frequently. Running on softer terrain and logging fewer kilometers will help you avoid injuries.
What the future holds for those who experience heel pain?
Nonsurgical therapies for heel pain usually work, but recovery takes time. You must exercise patience and allow your body enough time to heal. Too soon, resuming your regular activities can hinder your recovery. Rarely, you might require surgery.
When should you call the doctor?
Please get in touch with your healthcare provider straight away if any of the following happen:
- An ache that doesn’t go away after a few weeks of rest or pain medication
- Pain that makes moving or walking challenging
- Extreme foot or heel edema, stiffness, or swelling
One of Ahmedabad’s top physical therapists, Dr. Niraj Patel, is employed at Om Physio Plus Nutrition & Yoga Center. He does physiotherapy at home in Gota Cross Road, Ahmedabad, and the surrounding communities of Chandlodiya, Chandkheda, Kali, and Chharodia. Dr. Niraj Patel is among the best physiotherapists in Ahmedabad to choose from if you’re searching for treatment for yourself or a loved one. Contact Om Physio Plus Nutrition & Yoga Center to set up a home visit or to book an appointment with Dr. Niraj Patel.