It is impossible to never experience some kind of pain. That doesn’t make living in pain a normal part of life, however! Physical discomfort is meant to be a temporary problem to signal that something is wrong in your body, whether that’s an injury, infection, or something else. This is true for every part of you, including your heels. However, many people live with constant or recurring heel pain and don’t do anything about it.
Where Heel Pain Comes From
Heel pain is a general problem. It actually encompasses a number of specific conditions that create pain in the back of your foot. Each of these conditions tends to affect slightly different structures within your heel, which means they will take slightly different treatments to feel better. That is why an accurate diagnosis of your problem is very important.
There are many potential causes of heel pain. The most common culprit in adults is called plantar fasciitis. The tough ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes, called the plantar fascia, gets overstretched and overloaded. This causes painful irritation, swelling, and thickening around the point it connects to your heel.
However, issues in other structures can cause similar discomfort. Achilles tendonitis creates irritation on the back of the heel bone. Heel spurs are bony protrusions that can make chronic plantar fasciitis even worse. Heel bursitis is inflammation in the protective bursa sac between your Achilles and heel bone. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a problem with the nerve that runs next to the bone on the inside of the foot. These are just a few of the potential heel pain problems.
What You Can Do about Heel Pain
Because there are many heel pain causes, there are many heel pain treatments to manage them. First and foremost, however, you have to recognize that pain in the back of your foot is not normal and needs care. Our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC will carefully examine your lower limbs to determine what is causing your discomfort. Then we can help you plan out the best way to care for your feet.
The specific treatment you will need depends on your heel pain diagnosis. There are a few general treatments, however. Shoe changes and orthotics are the most common methods. You’ll need to wear supportive footwear that stabilizes your arch appropriately and cushions your heels. You might need custom inserts to help with this.
Icing the painful area could alleviate inflammation and irritation. Stretches and massages may reduce tightness and discomfort. Physical therapy could help improve your foot’s function and support as well, alleviating overuse and pain over time. More advanced treatments such as platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP) might accelerate healing, and only in very rare cases does anyone need surgery to manage chronic heel pain.
Avoiding Painful Heels Altogether
The very best way to deal with heel pain is to avoid it altogether. There are ways you can prevent problems in the back of your foot. Wearing comfortable, supportive, well-fitting shoes is one of the best options. Select styles that have low heels and cushioning to help absorb shock. Condition your feet to handle any activities, and always warm up correctly before exercising. If you notice discomfort, take care of it right away so it doesn’t get worse.
Heel pain does not have to be a defining part of your life! You don’t have to learn to live with it or accept it as normal. You can, however, take care of it and get your feet back their healthy, active selves. Our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC in Metairie, LA, is here to help you with that. Don’t put it off or wait for it to get worse. Make an appointment with our team by calling (504) 708-4810. You can also use our website to connect with us through our contact forms.