Gerard A Blane Podiatry

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Heel Pain

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A guide to heel pain

Heel pain may be caused by a number of different problems; for effective treatment you need to know the cause.

 

Why do people get Heel Pain?

The heel is a highly specialised part of the body designed to absorb the shock of walking and running. When walking the stresses places on your feet can be 1 1/4 times your body weight and, during your lifetime, you could walk the equivalent of four times around the world. These stresses can increase to 2 3/4 times body weight when running.It is therefore not surprising that heel pain is a common occurence.

If I experience heel pain what should I do?

If you ecperience heel pain you could follow these simple self-care measures.

Simple self-care measures that can sometimes help with heel pain

  • If the pain is associated with a particular shoe, avoid wearing those shoes for a while
  • Avoid walking on hard ground
  • Rest if possible, or maybe do not walk so fast
  • Wear a slightly raised heel, only 6-10 mm higher than normally worn
  • Use a heel cushion to reduce the pressure on your heel when walking - most chemists will stock these

If pain persists for more than three weeks consider seeking professional advice. It may be more than a temporary injury.

Who should I see if I have heel pain?

To ensure that you recieve the right treatment, you need to see someone who specialises in heel pain. Podiatrists and Chiropodists, as part of their training, specialise in heel pain, its causes and treatment. They will also be able to determine if the pain is being caused by problems elswhere in the body, for example back pain.

What could cause heel pain?

The following are some of the more common types of heel pain. This list however, is not exhaustive but may help you appreciate the complexity of heel pain and why specialist advice can be helpful.

Planter Fasciitis

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Calcaneal Bursitis

Chronic Inflamation of the Heel Pad

Stress Fracture

Severs Disease

Achilles Tendonosis

 

Probably the most common cause of pain in the heel results from damage to the tissue band (fascia) connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes. It tends to be painful when you take your first steps after resting and especially when getting out of bed in the morning. Most often associated with middle age, however, it can occur in all ages.

Treatment will involve special tretching exercises and, if appropriate, shoe inserts designed to alter foot function which will reduce the tension within (and therebyinjury to) the planter fascia. Soft heel cushions rarely help planter fasciitis. Unfortunately it can be a difficult condition to to treat and sometimes it may be necessary to also consider medication.

 

Copyed with kind permission from The society of Chiropodists and podiatrists SCp 44 52
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