HomeHealth A-ZHeel Pain: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Heel Pain: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Heel pain is a painful sensation that is felt under or behind the foot heel.  The rounded back part of the foot is known as the heel, and the sensation of pain or discomfort to this area of the foot is termed heel pain.  

What are different types of heel pain?

Plantar fasciitis –The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that goes down to the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is a disease that causes a stabbing sensation pain while walking, first thing in the morning. Walking and moving around would generally ease the discomfort, but it may return after long periods of standing or when you suddenly stand up from a seated position.

Achilles tendonitis – Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis most commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs.

What are the symptoms of heel discomfort? 

The common symptom is the sensation of pain in the back of the leg just above the heel. If untreated or not managed properly, this pain tends to develop over time and becomes more severe.  

When should you seek medical attention? 

If you’re experiencing pain in the back of the leg, or above the heel, then resting the affected area and avoiding any strain to it can help alleviate the discomfort.  

However, if your heel pain does not improve within two weeks, you should make an appointment with your Apollo doctor at the earliest to assess what’s causing your heel pain. 

Consult your doctor if:

  • There is excessive pain 
  • The pain appears for no apparent reason
  • The heel is swollen and red
  • You are unable to walk 

Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals

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What causes heel pain? 

Heel pain can be caused by various factors apart from plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. They include:

  • Bursitis: It occurs when fluid-filled sacs called bursae swell. You may have a bruise-like, tender feeling in the back of the heel.
  • Haglund’s deformity: Chronic irritation and inflammation can cause an enlarged bony bump, called a pump bump, to form in the back of your heel. 
  • Heel spur: It is a foot condition that is caused by a bony-like growth, called a calcium deposit, that extends between your heel bone and arch.
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Bone tumor
  • Osteomyelitis (a bone infection)
  • Paget’s disease of bone
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  • Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  • Stress fractures
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Common risk factors that can lead to heel pain

Children and the elderly are more likely to experience foot pain. Wearing high-heeled shoes can also put women at greater risk.

Other dangers include:

  • Certain occupations, such as construction work, may increase the risk of exacerbating heel pain
  • Tobacco use inhibits the healing process. This may result in painful foot problems when the wounds do not heal properly or take longer to heal than usual.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as:
  • Diabetes—Diabetics are more likely to get serious foot infections due to impaired blood circulation.
  • Obesity—People who are overweight place additional strain on their feet. 
  • Other health issues—Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and some hereditary disorders can also increase the risk of heel pain

What are the complications associated with leaving your heel pain untreated?

Heel pain can be debilitating, and it can interfere with your daily activities. If left untreated, heel pain can make you lose your balance and fall, increasing your risk of physical injuries.

What are the treatment options available?

Heel discomfort usually goes away on its own with adequate care and rest. 

Home remedies include:  

  • Applying an ice pack to the affected area, several times a day
  • Taking a break from activities that put a strain on your heel
  • Wearing well-fitted shoes
  • Using heel pads and cushions (silicon insoles)
  • Performing mild stretching exercises in the morning
  • Strengthening your leg muscles by engaging in regular physical activity
  • Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Your doctor may suggest blood tests to determine your Vitamin D and thyroid levels. To rule out the presence of a stress fracture, an X-ray scan could be recommended.

The doctor may prescribe a night splint or a short leg cast for plantar fasciitis, or they may suggest taking a corticosteroid injection. Physical treatment may be recommended by the doctor to strengthen muscles and tendons.

If surgery is required to treat the underlying disorders or to free the trapped nerves, your doctor will suggest this.

How do you prevent heel pain?

The following tips can help you prevent heel pain: 

  • Maintaining healthy body weight is important
  • Maintaining a good posture while walking and jogging
  • Warming up before participating in sports
  • Massaging your foot soles after a long period of standing or high-impact activity
  • Giving your heels a short rest regularly 

A Note from Apollo Hospitals/Apollo Group

Heel pain can be caused by a variety of factors, and your Apollo doctor can assist you in determining the source of your discomfort. Based on the diagnosis of your heel pain, your Apollo doctor would suggest a treatment plan that would include home remedies and lifestyle modifications, like administering cold packs and footwear modifications. The first step in determining the severity of your issue is to contact your Apollo doctor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1) When it comes to heel discomfort, how long does it last?

The onset and duration of your heel pain are determined by the condition causing the discomfort. Obesity-related heel pain improves gradually on losing weight

2)What is the procedure for diagnosing heel pain?

A doctor will check your foot and inquire about the duration of discomfort, the amount of walking you do on a daily basis, the type of footwear you use, and any family history of heel pain.

Your doctor will examine your leg and heel muscles for any unusual shape or changes in the skin. Squeezing and massaging the heel can also be utilized to detect any nerve issues, the presence of a cyst, or the presence of a stress fracture. This may be enough to make a diagnosis, although blood tests or imaging scans may be required in some cases.

3) How soon can I expect heel pain treatments to work?

Depending on the injury or existing medical condition that’s causing your heel pain, your Apollo doctor would suggest a treatment and recovery program that will provide faster and effective relief. Minor symptoms of heel pain can be quickly treated, but if it is a stress fracture that’s causing the pain, you will need to wait for your heel bones to fully recover.

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