Heel pain is the most common foot pain in the population (30% of all foot pain). It can be quite debilitating and affect ones daily activities. There are two main causes of heel pain-
- Plantar Fasciitis - which is pain at the under-surface of the heel
- Achilles tendinitis - which is pain at the back of the heel.
Both are caused by an inflammation at the insertion of the Plantar Fascia or the Achilles tendon to the bone.
The symptoms are quite similar too. There is pain as you start walking (which may vary from mild to severe) which gradually subside as the movement progresses. However, a dull ache stays throughout the day. If you have had a very active day, the pain is usually worse the next morning.
Individuals with certain foot deformities are more prone to heel pain. These may include flatfeet, high arched feet and individuals with tight calf muscles.
- Ice compression of the affected areas reduces the inflammation and hence the pain
- Stretching of the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon help reduce the pain in the long run
- Wearing the correct orthotic is critical, for Plantar Fasciitis you would need a heel offloading insole with adequate arch support. This helps in supporting the arch and prevents the plantar fascia from getting stretched.
For Achilles Tendinitis you would need a orthotic with a slight heel raise, this modification helps prevent mechanical friction between the tendon and the calcaneal bone.