Heel pain is common and can be due to a number of conditions. The heel bone is the first contact the foot to hit the ground when walking. When walking, your heels repeatedly hit the ground with considerable force. Then it is not surprising that heel pain is so common. When pain develops in the heel, it can be very disabling, making every step a problem, affecting your posture.
One of the most common types of Heel Pain is Plantar Fasciitis, which affects 1 in 10 people over the age of 50. It is painful and life debilitating and most of the advice online is poor, counter-productive and outdated.
The Plantar Fascia is a band of connective tissue that connects the bottom of your heel to beneath your toes. It’s function is to try and maintain a relatively neutral arch profile as we walk, however, in modern times on modern surfaces(hard and flat), our feet are prone to flattening. This flattening causes elongation of the foot, in other words it stretches out the plantar fascia significantly more than it is designed for. Tiny little micro tears occur, the area becomes inflamed and it gets sore. So, why doesn’t it just heal?
The plantar fascia has a reduced blood supply in comparison to other body parts, this reduced blood supply coupled with not preventing it from overstretching can lead to this condition becoming chronic.
Plantar Fasciitis usually requires a combination of treatments which may include Orthotic prescription and Shockwave Therapy as well as a thorough assessment of the patient’s footwear…!
Other heel problems include :
The skin around the heel area of the feet can become excessively dry causing it to crack and fissure. They can become quite painful and lead to more serious conditions if not treated promptly. The skin around the heel is naturally thicker than other areas of the foot and so requires more moisture to keep it supple. If the skin becomes too dry and lacking in moisture, the upper layers start to lose their flexibility causing the skin to split and crack. Cracked heels are quite a common condition, particularly in the summer months and in warmer climates.
Sometimes known as “pump bump” because of its prevalence among women who wear pump-style shoes, Haglund’s deformity can occur in one or both of the feet. That can lead to discomfort and even pain in the back of the heel.
These are small bony spurs that often develop on the bottom of the heel. The spur itself does not cause the pain, but pain may be associated with inflammation in the area. The pain is usually worst on standing, particularly first thing in the morning when you get up. There are no visible features on the heel but a tender patch can be found in or around the middle of the sole of the heel. Chronic inflammation may develop and, over time, lead to a bony growth or spur. The spur can only be seen on X-ray. The pain most associated with heel spurs is plantar fasciitis.
Pain can be felt at the back of the heel bone when the ankle joint is moved and there may be a swelling on both sides of the Achilles tendon (sometimes called Haglund’s); there could be problems with the insertion of the achilles tendon, such as tendonitis or calcification. Or you may feel pain deep inside the heel when it makes contact with the ground.
Recognised as firm bumps on the back of the heel, they are often rubbed by shoes causing pain.