Heel pain is one of the most common conditions treated by podiatrists. These painful symptoms are a protective mechanism to warn us about damage we have suffered, a signal from the body that our feet need attention.
Anyone can suffer with heel pain but it is most often seen in middle-aged people, particularly those who are involved in sports and those overweight and standing on their feet for long periods of time.
There are many causes of heel pain including poor biomechanics (abnormalities in gait), a traumatic injury, overuse or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time, wearing poor footwear, being overweight, or diseases such as arthritis and diabetes. These problems generally cause an overload of stress on the soft tissues around the heel, leading to the painful symptoms.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common diagnosis. This is an inflammation of the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot. Other diagnoses include bursitis (inflammation of a small, sack of fluid on the bottom of the heel), a neuropathy (a nerve irritation or impingement), a bruise or stress fracture of the heel bone.
If pain and other symptoms of inflammation persist, you should limit normal daily activities and consult your local podiatrist. Your podiatrist will assess your biomechanics and develop an individual tailored treatment plan such as massage, footwear, padding, deflections, orthoses and stretching. A proper treatment plan needs to be implemented or the condition may not resolve and continue to worsen causing debilitating pain.