The heel is the largest bone in the foot and injuring or overusing it can cause you to experience heel pain which can range from mild to disabling. It is important to have your heel pain diagnosed properly so as to determine the underlying source of the heel pain and rule out other possibilities.
Causes of Heel Pain
There are several causes of heel pain and they include:
- Plantar fasciitis: This occurs when there is too much pressure on the feet leading to the damage of the plantar fascia ligament, causing stiffness and pain.
- Sprains and strains: These are injuries which can result from physical activities. Depending on the incident, they usually range from minor to severe.
- Achilles tendonitis: This occurs when the tendon which attaches the heel to the calf muscles becomes inflamed or painful due to overuse injuries.
- Fracture: This is a broken bone and it needs immediate medical attention.
- Bursae are fluid-filled sacs found at the joints and they surround the areas where skin, tendons and muscle tissues meet bones.
- Osteochondroses: These are disorders which affect the growth of bones in children and adolescents.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: This is a form of arthritis which affects the spine causing severe inflammation of the vertebrae and it might lead to disability and chronic pain.
- Reactive arthritis: This is triggered by an infection in the body.
Symptoms of Heel Pain
Heel pain symptoms include:
- Pain at the bottom of the heel
- Pain in the foot’s arch
- Pain which increases over a period of time
- Swelling at the bottom of the heal
- Pain which starts suddenly
Diagnosis of Heel Pain
Diagnosis of heel pain is first done through a physical examination by your doctor. X-rays and other imaging modalities may be done to distinguish the different types of heel pain. Knowing the exact cause of heel pain helps to determine the course of treatment.
Treatment of Heel Pain
Most individuals recover from help pain with conservative treatments such as:
- Medication for relieving pain and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling
- Corticosteroid injections but these should be used with caution as long-term use may have adverse effects
- Physical therapy to strengthen the lower leg muscles, resulting in better stabilization of the heel and ankle
- Athletic tapping for better support of the bottom of the foot
- Assistive devices or orthotics and insoles for correcting foot faults and support the arch through the healing process
Surgery may also be recommended when nothing else works. It involves detaching the plantar fascia from the heel bone.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
Heel pain can be the result of a trauma such as a fall or twist, or it can be brought on by constant pressure and hammering on the heel. Additionally, wearing flat shoes can stretch the plantar fascia and cause swelling or inflammation. Other reasons for heel pain are Achilles tendinitis, Tarsal tunnel syndrome, Sever’s disease, and Heel bursitis.
If you experience extreme pain or swelling, are unable to flex your foot downward, or have tingling, numbness or fever you may need treatment sooner rather than later.
Plantar fasciitis is the most typical cause of heel pain known for its hallmark symptom of morning heel discomfort. It affects the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue on your foot that spans the arch and joins your heel to your toes. A damaged plantar fascia attempts to heal itself by shortening overnight thus putting weight on it when you wake up causes sharp pains before the band lengthens and loosens again.
If you have heel pain in one of your feet, your body will automatically attempt to transpose weight away from the sore heel and onto the healthier foot. On your other foot, which is now being overworked as the pressure is changed, inflammation may start to develop. If neglected, the pain will eventually jump from foot to foot until both feet are hurting at the same time, which can be crippling.
Yes, heel discomfort may result from the development of a “Charcot joint,” which is a damaged joint brought on by uncontrolled diabetes damaging the nerves in the foot and leading to joint collapse.
The majority of heel pain issues resolve with time and nonsurgical remedies. These treatments focus on reducing strain, inflammation, tension and stress as well as restoring heel agility. They include: steroid injections, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, tapping and orthotic devices.
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