How To Eliminate Heel Pain

How To Eliminate Heel Pain

In order to eliminate heel pain, it is important to understand its underlying cause(s). Although the term “heel pain” is somewhat generic, you can testify to its significance if you suffer from this condition.  Sources of the pain, which is located in the arch area on the underside of the foot, can vary.

Heel pain may be caused by trauma such as a forceful strike of the heel against a hard surface, but an overuse injury such as plantar fasciitis is also a potential culprit.

The underside of the heel, or calcaneus, bone has a thick layer of fat and protective fascia that provides padding as the heel makes contact with the ground.  Excessive forces or repetitive pounding can cause this fat pad to move or become inflamed.  When the protective layer under the heel bone loses efficiency in this manner, heel pain and burning feet are painful side effects.

Common Sources of Heel Pain

  • Plantar Fasciitis – A common source of arch pain, this inflammatory condition involves the plantar fascia in the back of the arch.
  • Heel Bone Spur – This problem occurs when excessive bone forms underneath the calcaneus (heel).
  • Heel Contusion – Simply put, this is a bruised heel bone.
  • Calcaneal Stress Fracture – This represents either a preliminary or significant fracture of the calcaneus bone.
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – This painful condition occurs when nerves encroach upon the back of the foot and arch.
  • Calcaneal Bursitis – This manifests itself as inflammation that occurs within the sack of fluid that sits under the heel.

Heel Pain Signs & Symptoms

  • Tenderness associated with the surface of the heel bone
  • Increased warmth and potential swelling of the underside of the heel bone
  • Arch pain that originates on the heel and can extend into the underside of the foot, towards the toes
  • Posterior heel pain trigged by bearing weight on the foot, which may worsen with active toe flexion

Professional Treatment for Heel Pain

  • Ice the entire heel bone with an ice bag, ice massage or, ideally, with an ice bucket.
  • Rest the area to minimize pressure on the calcaneus.
  • Gently massage the arch and toes.
  • Wear appropriate shoes that bolster padding for the heel bone and help absorb shocks.
  • Stretch the calf to foster pain-free movement of the ankle joint.
  • Consider utilizing orthotics or arch supports, depending on the anatomical alignment and biomechanics of your lower extremities.

The treatments noted above may improve heel bone spur symptoms and help avoid surgery.

Ask The Best Questions to Receive the Best Care

To ensure you receive the best possible care for your injured foot, ask questions like smart professional athletes would as they seek a quick, safe return to the sport they love. Specifically, here’s what a pro athlete would ask his or her sports medicine specialist:

1. Are you 100% certain of the diagnosis provided?

2. Do I need an X-ray to determine the extent of this injury?

3. What are my injury treatment options?

4. What can I expect when dealing with this injury over the next 2-6 weeks?

5. Can you recommend any expert heel pain rehab specialists in this area?

6. Will you provide me and my therapist with a detailed protocol to direct my rehab regimen?

Tips for a Speedy Recovery

  • Act Fast – Arch pain and heel pain are not injuries to ignore.  By prioritizing treatment, it is possible to resolve this injury quickly with minimal downtime.
  • Do Some Sole Searching – Shoes are typically the source of the problem.  Old, improper shoes and worn shoe soles are common factors that lead to arch pain and burning feet.
  • Remember That Ice is Your Friend – Yes, it’s a reality check:  Ice hurts, but it’s exactly what you need for this injury.  Professional athletes will tell you that ice is their best teammate.  Stop complaining and do what is needed….ICE, and lots of it.
  • Know What to Expect – Heel pain typically dictates minimal recovery time.  Provided there is no stress fracture, large bone spur or significant plantar fasciitis, the downtime required for this injury can range from a couple of days to a few weeks.  Quickly determine the source(s) of the problem and seek the appropriate treatment, and you’ll be back in the game before anyone even knew you were cooling your heels!

Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

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