The good news about heel pain is that it’s rarely the symptom of a serious injury. The flip side of heel pain is that it can cause significant interference in day-to-day activities and is especially problematic for athletes. The vast majority of heel pain symptoms are due to plantar fasciitis, a condition affecting the ligament structure that connects the heel bone to the toes.
Plantar fasciitis causes inflammation and small tears can develop, all of which produces a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot that can radiate to other areas. Heel spurs may be present though they aren’t the cause of the associated pain.
Most people with plantar fasciitis experience pain upon taking their first steps each morning and the discomfort often lessens as the foot is moved throughout the day, but can return after standing for long periods or when rising from a seated position.
The plantar fascia acts as the foot’s shock absorber to cushion the impact on the body. Most commonly found in runners, the condition also affects people who are overweight and anyone that wears shoes that don’t provide adequate support. Other factors include:
- Exercise and activities that place extra stress on the heel and adjoining tissues encompassing ballet dancing, aerobic exercise, ballistic jumping and long-distance running
- Flat feet, high arches, abnormal walking patterns and incorrect gait techniques
- Jobs that require standing or walking for long periods on hard surfaces, such as teaching, cashiering, retail jobs, guiding tours, healthcare, hairdressing or factory work
If heel pain isn’t addressed by a medical profession, it can lead to chronic pain and result in other problems in the foot, knee, hip and back. At-home treatment consists of rest, application of ice to the affected area, and stretching to maintain function and encourage strengthening.
Physical therapy, night splints and orthotics may also be used in the treatment of heel pain Adelaide. Depending upon the severity, it can take several months for recovery. If conservative methods don’t work, steroid injections and shock wave therapy may be employed, and surgery may be required as a final option.
The key is prevention in the form of a digital gait analysis to detect and identify detrimental patterns of movement. With supportive footwear, maintaining a healthy weight and exercises designed to keep the feet in optimal condition, the potential for heel pain and be substantially minimized.