Heel Pain

October 31, 2008

” My heels ache as I press them on the ground like while getting up from a chair. I can’t figure the time when it started or the reason why it started. It could be because I started driving recently, which I was not used to. ” My friend and I were having one of our usual chats when he said this. I have heard of my mother complaining of a heel pain long back. But certainly she did not drive and the pain was due to some other reason. On the other hand, my friend’s heel pain turned out to be because of his overweight and his new athletic feat, cricket after work.

Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain

A thick band of tissue covers the bottom of the foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.called the Plantar Fascia. Any irritation to it can lead to the inflammation of plantar fascia and can cause heel pain or Plantar Fasciitis.

Symptoms

  1. Sharp excruciating pain in the inside part of the bottom of your heel.
  2. Localized pain in the heel when you get up in the morning.
  3. It worsens as you climb the stairs or stand on tiptoe
  4. Aching heel after sports or athletics like jogging or playing.
  5. The pain subsides after a few minutes of walking.
  6. Pain in the sole and heels.
  7. Mild swelling.

Causes

The causes of plantar fasciitis may vary from individual to individual.

  1. Many people suffer from heel pain due to sudden physical activities. If you have been inactive for a long time and all of a sudden when you start some activity like jogging, waking, playing outdoor games, jumping etc you put a lot of weight on your foot. When you do high-impact movements you are in fact exerting yourself. Any physical activity that exerts a lot of pressure on your foot can trigger off the pain. Hence you find housewives who are not engaged in any outdoor activity also complaining of foot pain. This happens when they do any household chores including moving a piece of furniture etc.
  2. Overweight and obesity. Your heels carry a lot of weight and this overload may irritate the tissues of the foot.
  3. Standing for a long time can also worsen the pain.
  4. Arthritis and diabetes also lead to Plantar Fasciitis. Arthritic people have inflamed tendons in the foot leading to Plantar Fasciitis. Relation between diabetes and plantar fasciitis is still uncertain.
  5. Some flat-footed people and people with wrong foot mechanics may get heel pain. The abnormal style of walking may put strain on the foot and can cause foot pain.
  6. Wrong shoes can cost you a lot. Worn out or poorly supported shoes may fail to support your foot as you run on uneven/hard surfaces.

Heel pain may further lead to health problems like hip pain or back  pain if neglected. There are medications and therapies available for heel pain. You may also wear night splints or orthotics to support your feet. In severe cases, doctors suggest surgery.

Prevention and Care

  • Don’t be a miser, buy good shoes. That’s when you really start trusting a brand. I wouldn’t buy branded shoes until I was forced to buy a famous brand walking shoe for my wide foot.
  • Don’t skip warm up sessions before an activity. Do some stretching even as you wake up in the morning.
  • Lose weight. The ultimatum!
  • Use arch supports to lessen pain.
  • Use ice packs.
  • You can still exercise with plantar fasciitis. But something that does not apply weight on your foot like cycling, swimming and so on.
  • Stop all other activities that exert pressure on your foot.
  • Even at home use a good sandal or foot wear every time you stand up or walk.

- Aparna K V

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