Alternative Names: Pain – heel
Heel pain is a very common foot problem. The sufferer usually feels pain either under the heel (planter fasciitis) or just behind it (Achilles tendinitis), where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone.
Even though heel pain can be severe and sometimes disabling, it is rarely a health threat. Heel pain is typically mild and usually disappears on its own; however, in some cases the pain may persist and become chronic (long-term).
There are 26 bones in the human foot, of which the heel (calcaneus) is the largest. The human heel is designed to provide a rigid support for the weight of the body. When we are walking or running it absorbs the impact of the foot when it hits the ground, and springs us forward into our next stride. Experts say that the stress placed on a foot when walking may be 1.25 times our body weight, and 2.75 times when running. Consequently, the heel is vulnerable to damage, and ultimately pain.
Heel pain is usually felt either under the heel or just behind it.
There are 26 bones in the human foot, of which the heel is the largest.
Pain typically comes on gradually, with no injury to the affected area. It is often triggered by wearing a flat shoe.
In most cases the pain is under the foot, towards the front of the heel.
The majority of patients recover with conservative treatments within months.
Home care such as rest, ice, proper-fitting footwear and foot supports are often enough to ease heel pain.
To prevent heel pain, it’s recommended to reduce the stress on that part of the body
Pain typically comes on gradually, with no injury to the affected area. It is frequently triggered by wearing a flat shoe, such as flip-flop sandals. Flat footwear may stretch the plantar fascia to such an extent that the area becomes swollen (inflamed).
In most cases, the pain is under the foot, toward the front of the heel.
Post-static dyskinesia (pain after rest) – symptoms tend to be worse just after getting out of bed in the morning, and after a period of rest during the day.
After a bit of activity symptoms often improve a bit. However, they may worsen again toward the end of the day.
In the majority of cases, heel pain has a mechanical cause. Heel pain tends to occur if a person has flat feet or high arches, is overweight, diabetic, wears poorly fitting or worn out shoes, runs or jogs on hard surfaces or has an abnormal gait. Quite often the pain is due to a “spur” or extra bone growth.It may also be caused by arthritis, infection, an autoimmune problem trauma, a neurological problem, or some other systemic condition (condition that affects the whole body).
Heel pain is not usually caused by a single injury, such as a twist or fall, but rather the result of repetitive stress and pounding of the heel.
The most common causes of heel pain are:
*Plantar fasciitis (plantar fasciosis) – inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a strong bowstring-like ligament that runs from the calcaneum (heel bone) to the tip of the foot. When the plantar fasciitis is stretched too far its soft tissue fibers become inflamed, usually where it attaches to the heel bone. Sometimes the problem may occur in the middle of the foot. The patient experiences pain under the foot, especially after long periods of rest. Some patients have calf-muscle cramps if the Achilles tendon tightens too
*Heel bursitis - inflammation of the back of the heel, the bursa (a fibrous sac full of fluid). Can be caused by landing awkwardly or hard on the heels. Can also be caused by pressure from footwear. Pain is typically felt either deep inside the heel or at the back of the heel. Sometimes the Achilles tendon may swell. As the day progresses the pain usually gets worse
*Heel bumps (pump bumps) - common in teenagers. The heel bone is not yet fully mature and rubs excessively, resulting in the formation of too much bone. Often caused by having a flat foot. Among females can be caused by starting to wear high heels before the bone is fully mature
*Tarsal tunnel syndrome - a large nerve in the back of the foot becomes pinched, or entrapped (compressed). This is a type of compression neuropathy that can occur either in the ankle or foot..
*Chronic inflammation of the heel pad—caused either by the heel pad becoming too thin, or heavy footsteps
Stress fracture – this is a fracture caused by repetitive stress, commonly caused by strenuous exercise, sports or heavy manual work. Runners are particularly prone to stress fracture in the metatarsal bones of the foot. Can also be caused by osteoporosis
*Severs disease (calcaneal apophysitis) - the most common cause of heel pain in child/teenage athletes, caused by overuse and repetitive microtrauma of the growth plates of the calcaneus (heel bone). Children aged from 7-15 are most commonly affected
*Achilles tendonosis (degenerative tendinopathy) - also referred to as tendonitis, tendinosis and tendinopathy. A chronic (long-term) condition associated with the progressive degeneration of the Achilles tendon. Sometimes the Achilles tendon does not function properly because of multiple, minor microscopic tears of the tendon, which cannot heal and repair itself correctly – the Achilles tendon receives more tension than it can cope with and microscopic tears develop. Eventually, the tendon thickens, weakens and becomes painful.
Treatment for heel pain usually involves using a combination of techniques, such as stretches and painkillers, to relieve pain and speed up recovery.
Most cases of heel pain get better within 12 months. Surgery may be recommended as a last resort if your symptoms don’t improve after this time. Only 1 in 20 people with heel pain will need surgery.
Whenever possible, rest the affected foot by not walking long distances and standing for long periods. However, you should regularly stretch your feet and calves using exercises such as those described in the pictures...>…..click & see
Maintaining flexible and strong muscles in your calves, ankles, and feet can help prevent some types of heel pain. Always stretch and warm-up before exercising.
Wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes with good arch support and cushioning. Make sure there is enough room for your toes.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.