Long stints of physical activity, and foot problems such as plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis, are some of the factors that can cause heel pain.
Heel pain that affects the back of the foot can disrupt day-to-day activities such as walking and standing. This foot problem is typically marked by swelling, and numbness or a tingling sensation in the affected area. In most cases, the pain is moderate and tolerable, and appropriate foot care will heal the condition on its own without any medical treatment.
Wearing tight shoes, too much physical activity, and being overweight are some of the most common causes of heel pain. Other causes are discussed below:
90% of people suffering from this foot pain, are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue located at the bottom of the foot. This ligament, that is an important part of the sole, runs from the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fascia is quite a flexible ligament that can stretch whenever required. When this thick fibrous band, originating from the heel bone, becomes inflamed, it causes pain. More specifically, the part of plantar fascia that lies beneath the heel bone shows inflammation. Overuse of the foot, that is common among athletes, often leads to plantar fasciitis. Ignoring warm up exercises before running can also trigger plantar fasciitis.
The achilles tendon that runs from the calf muscle to the heel bone is the biggest tendon found in our body. This tendon assists the toes to support body weight. In achilles tendonitis, the area where this fibrous tissue (achilles tendon) connects the heel bone becomes inflamed, leading to pain behind the heel.
Achilles Tendon Tear or Rupture
Overstretching the achilles tendon during any physical activity may damage this fibrous tissue. An abnormal stretch often causes sudden rupture or tear of the achilles tendon that can lead to swelling of the heel. In this condition, standing up on the toes causes excruciating pain that aggravates over time.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs due to compression of posterior tibial nerve. The tibial nerve that branches from the sciatic nerve, runs down the leg and connects to the ankle. The part of the nerve that lies inside the ankle is referred to as posterior tibial nerve. Standing or exercising for a long time puts undue pressure on the ankle, resulting in unbearable shooting pain from behind the heel.
Diagnosing the underlying cause is crucial, which can be easily achieved by taking X-rays, or a MRI scan of the affected leg. Some of the common treatment methods that help to heal this foot pain are given below:
Physical activities that put strain on the foot can worsen heel pain. So, running or too much walking must be avoided. Taking rest as much as possible is the key to get rid of this pain.
Application of ice on the foot sole and behind the injured heel, is an age-old therapy, to combat inflammation and manage the pain.
Apart from taking rest, use of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may also contribute to relieve the pain.
Use of corticosteroid injections may also help to resolve the issue. This form of treatment can work to reduce the pain considerably.
Wear Proper Shoes
People suffering from this foot condition should stay away from shoes that provide very little support to the heel and the ankle.
Orthotics are products that are inserted into the shoes to provide arch support and relieve this foot pain. These products provide a cushioning support that alleviate symptoms of the underlying foot problem. Orthotics such as gel heel cups may also help to improve this foot condition.
Walking barefooted for some time stimulates blood flow in the feet, necessary to lessen the pain. Stretching exercises such as bending the knees with heels in contact with the floor, are also recommended to reduce the pain. These exercises should be done minimum 2 times in a day to improve the foot condition.
Determining the underlying cause of heel pain is crucial to eliminate this foot problem. In case, the pain persists for more than a week or two, it may be a symptom of severe foot ailment and requires urgent medical treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.