Heel pain is experienced by a large portion of the population at some point during their years on their feet. It is often the result of repetitive stress on the feet, not an isolated injury. A few different medical conditions can result in heel pain. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects a ligament in the foot known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia ligament spans the length of the foot and connects the heel with the toes. In some people, the plantar fascia gets stretched too tight, either because of the shape of their feet or because they participate in activities like running that put repetitive stress on the feet.
If plantar fascia gets stretched too tightly, it will tear. These tears are usually very tiny, but they can become inflamed. The inflammation creates pain in the heel and the arch of the foot.
Patients who have plantar fasciitis often report that their pain is worst when they first wake up in the morning and get out of bed. It may also be worse when a person stands up after sitting for a long period of time.
If you have plantar fasciitis, the first thing that you should do is rest your feet. Take a break from whatever activities are causing you pain. Prop your feet up and put ice on them. You can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin.
Once the inflammation has subsided, it is a good idea to do some gentle stretching of the calf muscles & foot before activity. This, combined with wearing supportive shoes & customized arch support, will help to reduce the stress to the Plantar Fascia & make it more comfortable for you to perform your everyday activities.
Heel bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is a sack of fluid that is located in various parts of the body where tissues, bones, ligaments, and tendons rub against each other, including the heel.
The purpose of the bursa is to protect and cushion these parts. If the bursa gets inflamed, it is called bursitis. Bursitis can be caused by an injury, repetitive motion, or arthritis. Patients who have heel bursitis may experience pain, swelling, and redness around the heel.
Treatment for heel bursitis includes rest, elevating the feet, and applying ice. It is possible for the bursa to get infected, so if it looks very red or feels warm, you should see a doctor. You may need treatment with antibiotics.
Heel bumps are also known as Haglund’s Syndrome. Before adulthood, the heel bone has not developed fully. It can rub to the point that excess bone material is developed. There are several causes for this condition, including the shape of the foot (whether it be flat feet or high arches), or by wearing shoes with high heels as a youth.
Just like bunions and heel bursitis, the recommended treatment for heel bumps is rest, ice, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medications. Go to a specialised footwear store, as they can help you to choose the right shoes, (or in some cases, make modifications to the shoes), so that they do not cause further irritation to this part of the heel.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to the pinching of a nerve in the ankle and back of the foot. This results in a burning sensation. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be caused by improper pronation, an injury to the ankle, or inflammation of the tendon.
If you suffer from tarsal tunnel syndrome, take the usual steps of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication. If you suffer from any type of heel pain, you should always wear supportive shoes and custom arch supports in order to minimize your pain and prevent further damage.
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