Heel pain

Heel pain is one of the most common foot injuries assessed, diagnosed and treated by a podiatrists, physiotherapists and sports medicine doctors.

Heel pain most commonly occurs in middle aged men and women, but can also occur in children (usually between 8 and 13 years old) as they become more active in sporting activities.

The most common cause of heel pain is poor biomechanics.

This uneven loading of the soft tissue in the heel and the bone, can lead to stress that causes pain.

Heel pain can also result from an acute injury, such as direct trauma from landing on a stone, running in footwear with inadequate support, or running on hard surfaces.

The heel bone, or calcaneus, can also develop a heel spur on it.

This can be a deep painful site in the centre of the heel, though around 10% of the population may have heel spurs with no symptoms linked with its presence.

The spur is a result of the traction, or pulling of soft tissue that attaches at the front edge of the heel bone, causing the bone to lay down more bone in the form of a spur.

There is a band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes, it is very strong piece of soft tissue, and is called the plantar fascia.

This is commonly linked with pain occurring in the heel, and when it gets inflamed due to strain, this causes pain (plantar fasciitis).

Pronation of the foot (flattening of the arch during weight bearing), causes load on the plantar fascia.

Non-supportive footwear or poor foot function will lead to load on the plantar fascia.

There are many other causes of heel pain including referred pain, local nerve irritation, bursitis, stress fractures, etc.

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is the best approach with resolving the heel pain quickly. Strapping of the foot can be very worthwhile in resting the soft tissue, or injured heel.

Other treatment modalities that can be used include: Icing, anti-inflammatory medication, shockwave therapy, massage, stretches, appropriate training warm ups, footwear changes, and/or orthoses.

Your local Lifecare podiatrist, physiotherapist, and/or sports medicine doctor so that your heel pain can be correctly diagnosed and a treated in the short and long term.

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