Heel Pain

Pain in the heel can also occur suddenly as a shooting pain or be a low level constant discomfort that drives you mad. There can be many reasons for heel pain but often it’s caused by a change in the biomechanics of the foot

i.e. in its structure which includes our gait, or way of walking. Generally the pain is caused from two main reasons, plantar fasciitis or a heel Spur.

The Plantar fascia is like a strip of cling film (connective tissue) that attaches from the ball of the foot to the heel bone. The pain comes when tiny rips or tears develop in it, occurring from sports like running, tennis or being overweight.

A Heel Spur (boney lump on base on heel bone) occurs when similar damage occurs where the fascia joins the heel bone, causing the area to become inflamed. This spur can be very visible on X-ray, however a large number of people have heel spurs that will never cause them to have any problems.

Both conditions can be aggravated or initially caused when the foot is flat (pronated) where the arch of the foot is lower than its normal position rolling inwards causing the fascia to be stretched and the small tears to develop.

Sometimes individuals will comment that pain is worse on rising first thing in the morning.

How to treat

If the foot is really painful quick relief can sometimes be gained by placing a cold drinks can on the floor and resting the painful area on it. (Whilst you are seated)

A podiatrist, your doctor or a physiotherapist can often help you with diagnosing the problem and recommend a course of treatment.

Footwear- a supportive shoe such as a trainer or fastening shoe can reduce the stretch on the fascia giving it time to rest and heal. Sometimes wearing a shoe with a slightly higher heal can have a similar outcome.

The condition can reoccur and sometimes a foot orthosis may need to be worn in your shoes to support the foot and thus stop more damage to the fascia.

The doctor may recommend a course of tablets to reduce the inflammation and recommend rest. A steroid injection into the heel area can help as a last resort but can be very uncomfortable.

Other useful links:
§ Footwear
§ Orthosis.