Your heel is the prominence at the posterior end of your foot. It is the largest bone in your foot forming the foundation of the rear part of your foot, it is also known as calcaneus. Your ankle and foot are made up of 33 joints and 26 bones, there are almost more than 100 tendons in this area. The function of the heel is to provide support to the weight of your body, any injury or over usage of the heel can cause heel pain. The stress on foot increases while walking and it becomes three times more while running.
Common Causes of Heel Pain
• Plantar Fasciitis-
Plantar fasciitis is one the most frequent cause of the heel pain, it occurs when too much pressure on your feet causes damages the plantar fascia ligament, causing stabbing pain and stiffness. Plantar fascia connects your heel bone to the toe, it supports the arch of your foot. Pain commonly occurs with your first steps in the morning, it can worsen due to long periods of standing. This pain decreases with activity in a day, it is common in runners, obese, people wearing shoes with inadequate support.
• Sprains and Strains-
Physical activity causing injury to the body is called Sprains and strain. These injuries are common and can range from minor to severe.
A fracture is a broken bone. This condition is considered a medical emergency and it may require Urgent care.
• Achilles tendinitis-
Achilles tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. It is also called calcaneal tendon, it is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. Achilles tendinitis occurs when this tendon becomes painful and inflamed due to frequent activities like running and walking.
Bursitis occurs because of are fluid-filled sacs developing in your joints. They are common when you run or jog excessively, especially on hard surfaces
• Ankylosing spondylitis-
It is a form of arthritis, comprising long-term inflammation of joints of the spine. It eventually leads to chronic pain in lower back, stiffness during the early morning. With progression in disease, the patient may suffer the loss of spinal mobility and chest expansion.
This is a self-limiting developmental derangement of normal growth of bone
How to Treat Heel Pain
If you experience heel pain regularly, which last for more than a week you should consult an orthopedic. Following are a few recommendations which can be helpful in relieving heel pain.
• Rest and Strengthen the Foot Muscles
You should take adequate rest, likewise, invest some time in strengthening your foot muscles, make these stretching exercises a part of your morning routine. you can also elevate your leg for some time for immediate relief.
• Hot and Cold Water Baths
Hot and cold water baths can help you in soothing sore muscles, they are a form of a contrast bath. It helps in increasing blood flow the affected area, reducing swelling and pain. Warm bath causes Vasodilation and cold bath results in vasoconstriction, this helps in pumping excessive fluid accumulated in the area. immerse your feet first in hot water for about 2-3 minutes. next, switch to cold water for the same duration. cycle between the two almost 5 to 6 times.
• Epsom Salt
Epsom salt when added to warm water breaks and releases sulfate and magnesium. When you soak your heel in water with Epsom salt, these chemicals are absorbed by the body and help in reducing pain and swelling. soak your feet in Epsom salt bath for about 10 – 15 minutes.
• Ice Pack
Apply ice to the heel for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day. It will provide you with instant relief. It will relieve pain and swelling. Always ensure to wrap your ice in a towel or use an ice pack, avoid direct application of ice on the affected area.
Massages targeting at tender spots can help in relieving pain, massages with oil help in increasing the blood flow. it also increases the flexibility of the affected muscles.
• Fish Oil
nerve health can be boosted with omega 3 supplements. fish oil is a good source of omega 3, it helps in decreasing inflammation and boosting healing. it also reduces stiffness
Wear shoes that fit properly, when suggested by your doctor you can also use heel lifts or shoe inserts. They help in reducing pain by reducing the excessive pressure on the heel. Healing sole available in markets help in stretching the plantar fascia, it raises the arch and absorbs the body weight.
In many cases, If your pain is severe, your doctor may provide you with anti-inflammatory medications.
Complications related to Heel pain can be disabling and affect your routine life.
How Can You Prevent Heel Pain
It is possible to prevent a few cases of heel pain, by adopting a few preventive measures. following are a few measures you can easily adopt :
• Wear shoes that fit properly and support your feet
Always ensure proper stretching of muscles before exercising.
• Maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet.
• Rest when you feel tired or when your muscles ache.
When Should You Contact Doctor?
If you develop heel pain, after trying some home remedies, If the pain is persistent for two to three weeks, you should immediately seek appointment with your doctor.
• Pain is severe.
• Sudden onset of pain
• Swelling and redness in your heel.
• You have difficulty in walking because of heel pain.
Dr Reena Prajapat is a dentist, she post graduated in hospital management from Apollo Institute of hospital Administration, Hyderabad. Her strong belief in natural and home remedies lead her to Pursue bachelor in naturopathy.