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Managing Heel Pain

heel pain

Heel pain

Heel pain is generally the result of faulty biomechanics (walking gait abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. The stress may also result from injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed footwear; or being overweight.

The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones in the human foot, which also has 33 joints and a network of more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

Conditions that cause heel pain generally fall into two main categories: pain beneath the heel and pain behind the heel.

Pain beneath the heel

If it hurts under your heel, you may have one or more conditions that inflame the tissues on the bottom of your foot:

Pain behind the heel

If you have pain behind your heel, you may have inflamed the area where the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone (retrocalcaneal bursitis). People often get this by running too much or wearing shoes that rub or cut into the back of the heel. Pain behind the heel may build slowly over time, causing the skin to thicken, get red and swell. You might develop a bump on the back of your heel that feels tender and warm to the touch. The pain flares up when you first start an activity after resting. It often hurts too much to wear normal shoes. You may need an X-ray to see if you also have a bone spur. Click here for the best shoes for heel pain

Initially, your doctor may instruct you to apply ice for 10 minutes several times a day (especially after activity and at bedtime), using an ice bath or cubes in a bag. If the problem persists he/she might prescribe painkillers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Foam heel cups or shoe inserts (called orthotic devices) may also be helpful.

Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm (not hot) water, using a mild soap, preferably one containing moisturizers, or use a moisturizer separately. Test the water temperature with your hand.

In addition below are, stretching and strengthening exercises for the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles that will help you heal faster. These exercises are to be done barefoot.

As the pain decreases and your strength improves, gradually return to your usual activities. Exercises that keep your full weight off your feet, such as bicycling or swimming, will help you maintain fitness during recovery. 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.

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