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Why does my heel pain? Know common causes and treatment

Why does my heel pain? Know common causes and treatment

Heel pain is a common and disruptive condition affecting the ankle, complicating daily activities. Fortunately, effective solutions are available for managing this discomfort.

Heel pain frequently affects many people, appearing either underneath or behind the heel. It’s a widespread issue that can affect individuals of various ages and backgrounds, ranging from mild annoyance to severe disruption of daily activities. Understanding its causes, recognizing symptoms, and knowing the options for prevention and treatment are crucial for foot health.

Health Shots spoke with Dr. Naga Vani, Senior Physiotherapist at Kamineni Hospitals in Hyderabad, to delve into the specifics of heel pain.

What causes heel pain? “Heel pain arises from various sources, with each cause having specific contributing factors. Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause, occurring when the plantar fascia, the thick tissue band extending from the heel to the toes, becomes inflamed,” explained Dr. Vani.

Common reasons for heel pain include:

  1. Achilles Tendinitis This condition stems from inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It typically develops from overuse, sudden increases in physical activity, or tight calf muscles.
  2. Heel Spurs These bony growths under the heel bone can cause discomfort when they irritate surrounding tissues and often accompany plantar fasciitis.
  3. Bursitis Inflammation of the bursa sac between the heel bone and skin or Achilles tendon contributes to heel pain.
  4. Stress fractures Small cracks in the heel bone from repetitive stress or trauma are common in athletes and those engaged in high-impact activities.

Signs and symptoms of heel pain Heel pain can vary from mild discomfort to severe pain. Typical symptoms include:

• Sharp, stabbing pain noticeable in the morning or after resting. • Swelling, particularly in conditions like Achilles tendinitis or bursitis. • Stiffness around the heel, hindering foot movement. • In cases of severe inflammation or infection, the heel may be red and warm.

These symptoms are vital for diagnosing and treating heel pain effectively.

How to prevent heel pain? Preventing heel pain involves adopting healthy lifestyle habits and considering specific risk factors. Essential preventive measures include:

  1. Opt for supportive footwear and avoid high heels. “Choose shoes that offer good arch support and cushioning. Avoid high heels or poorly supportive shoes as they can worsen heel pain,” advised Dr. Vani.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight increases stress on the feet, contributing to heel pain. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help manage weight and reduce heel pain risk.
  3. Regularly perform exercises to enhance strength and flexibility. “Engage in regular stretching exercises to improve flexibility and strength in your Achilles tendon and calf muscles. A physical therapist or fitness professional can offer personalized exercise recommendations,” suggested Dr. Vani.
  4. Gradually change physical activity levels. Avoid sudden, intense activity changes and opt for gradual increases to prevent overuse injuries that can cause heel pain.

What is the best treatment for heel pain? When heel pain occurs, timely and appropriate treatment is crucial. Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of the pain and may include:

  1. Rest Initially, resting the feet and avoiding pain-aggravating activities are important. Applying ice and elevating the foot can also reduce inflammation and provide relief.
  2. Physical therapy A trained therapist may recommend specific exercises and stretches to improve flexibility and strength in the foot and calf, along with using orthotic devices for better support.
  3. Medication Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In severe cases, cortisone injections or surgery may be considered if conservative treatments are ineffective.

Diagnosing and treating heel pain effectively is key to restoring foot health and maintaining daily activities without discomfort.



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