Heel Pain Prevention and Treatment

Prevention

A variety of steps can be taken to avoid heel pain and accompanying afflictions:

 

  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">Wear shoes that fit well — front, back, and sides — and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">Wear the proper shoes for each activity.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">Prepare properly before exercising. Warm up and do stretching exercises before and after running.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">Don’t underestimate your body's need for rest and good nutrition.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo9; tab-stops: list .5in">If obese, lose weight.

 

Tips for Avoiding Heel Pain

 

  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">If you have not exercised in a long time, consult your podiatric physician before starting a new exercise program.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">Begin an exercise program slowly, don't go too far or too fast.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">Purchase and maintain good shoes and replace them regularly.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">Stretch each foot and achilles tendon before and after exercise.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">Avoid uneven walking surfaces or stepping on rocks as much as possible.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">Avoid going barefoot on hard surfaces.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">Vary the incline on a treadmill during exercise. Nobody walks uphill all the time.
  • class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo10; tab-stops: list .5in">If it hurts, stop. Don't try to "work through the pain."

 

Podiatric Medical Care and Treatment

 

If pain and other symptoms of inflammation—redness, swelling, heat—persist, you should limit normal daily activities and contact a doctor of podiatric medicine.

The podiatric physician will examine the area and may perform diagnostic X rays to rule out problems of the bone.

 

Early treatment might involve oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medication, exercise and shoe recommendations, taping or strapping, or use of shoe inserts or orthotic devices. Taping or strapping supports the foot, placing stressed muscles and tendons in a physiologically restful state. Physical therapy may be used in conjunction with such treatments.

 

A functional orthotic device may be prescribed for correcting biomechanical imbalance, controlling excessive pronation, and supporting of the ligaments and tendons attaching to the heel bone. It will effectively treat the majority of heel and arch pain without the need for surgery.

Only a relatively few cases of heel pain require more advanced treatments or surgery. If surgery is necessary, it may involve the release of the plantar fascia, removal of a spur, removal of a bursa, or removal of a neuroma or other soft-tissue growth.

 

If you have experienced painful heels try wearing your shoes around your house in the evening. Don't wear slippers, socks or go barefoot. You may also try gentle calf stretches for 20 to 30 seconds on each leg. This is best done barefoot, leaning forward towards a wall with one foot forward and one foot back.

If the pain persists longer then one month you should visit a podiatrist for evaluation and treatment. Your feet should not hurt and it may require professional podiatric care to help relieve your discomfort.

 

Information Courtesy of The American Podiatric Medical Association