Having a faulty foot structure (for example, flat or high arched feet) or prolonged wearing of non-supportive footwear on hard surfaces, can cause plantar fascia: a thick and strong structure on the bottom of your foot that becomes tight, pulling at the point where it attaches to your heel. This can make the fascia and heel inflamed and sore and create a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
People with plantar fasciitis often report that the pain is worse when they first get out of bed, or when they walk after they’ve been sitting still for some time. The pain is usually felt in the sole of the foot and the bottom of the heel. It usually eases after a few minutes of walking. Long term remedies include wearing supportive shoes, stretching and using orthotics.
Achilles tendinitis is another common cause of heel pain. It is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which runs from the heel to the calf. It often causes pain behind your heel (and may also cause swelling, warmth and tenderness in this region) It may also hurt when you rise to stand on your toes. Common causes are tight calf muscles and overuse. Gently stretching the calf might help, though if pain persists, you may need to consult a physiotherapist and undertake special exercises.
Other causes of heel pain include arthritis, heel bursitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome or osteomyelitis.
Heel pain diagnosis
A doctor or a physiotherapist is able to diagnose the cause of heel pain by talking to you about your symptoms and and examining your foot.
Heel pain treatment
Your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend rest and home treatments such as stretching your calf muscles if you have plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis.
Other treatments may include:
1. applying ice
2. anti-inflammatory medicines or painkillers
3. night splints or strapping
4. supportive footwear or orthotics
5. weight loss to reduce the stress on your feet.
If you are exercising and feel a sudden pain in the back of the leg, you may have ruptured your Achilles tendon. If this happens, you should seek medical help immediately.
Reducing stress on the feet helps to prevent heel injury and pain. Stretching and a warming-up before exercise can help. If you feel pain in your tendon, you should stop the exercise. Always wear correctly fitted, supportive footwear suitable for your activity.