Heel pain: let's find out what the causes can be, from the most common to the most complex. Remedies and therapies to relieve and prevent pain.
Many factors can strain the foot and create pain in the heel, for example when we walk a lot or maybe on hard surfaces or wear shoes that are unsuitable for our foot. However, there are circumstances in which heel pain is only the effect of an upstream problem or the cause! Typically, pain involves the back of the heel, mainly because it hinders the biomechanics of the steps during movement.
It should be noted that the heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones that make up the foot and has 33 joints. It is therefore an extremely complex and delicate part of the body, with more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments; which is why we talk about a part of the body that is easily exposed to discomfort if we do not preserve its integrity
Heel pain, causes
In addition to the most common causes already mentioned, heel pain can also be caused by various pathologies, among the most common we can mention:
- Soft tissue disorders: plantar fasciitis, trauma to the Achilles tendon, Haglund's disease
- Pathologists related to bone components: heel spurs, congenital deformities, heelitis
- Pathologies linked to an incorrect foot position that causes overload: flat foot or cavus foot, pronation syndrome
Other causes can be sought in nervous or vascular deficits, in systemic, genetic, metabolic or growth pathologies. Remember, however, that your doctor must diagnose any pathologies and indicate the most appropriate treatment.
Let's explore two pathologies most frequently associated with heel pain.
It is among the most common causes of heel pain. It is an excessive bone growth on the lower area of the heel, in practice, a sort of extension of a few millimeters of the bone itself which consequently causes intense pain if the heel is subjected to pressure (such as walking)
Usually the heel spurs are triggered by excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot. In practice, traction is exerted on the plantar fascia, which goes from the heel to the front of the foot, consequently tearing the membrane that covers the heel bone.
When it happens? When we walk badly, when we walk in unsuitable shoes, when we strain our foot too much or put too much weight on the heel (obesity).
If the heel pain radiates to the sole of the foot, it may be plantar fasciitis. We are talking about an inflammation of the fibrous connective tissue band that extends from the heel to the front of the foot. Generally, the cause is attributable to excessive effort, prolonged walking or the use of unsuitable shoes.
The fibers of the plantar tissue are overstretched or broken, which is why the pain is so severe. Another aspect to consider is that heel spurs are sometimes associated with plantar fasciitis.
Heel pain, remedies
The treatments for heel pain depend on the cause that triggered the pain. When the causes are not due to any pathology, we can resort to various remedies to relieve the discomfort without having to use painkilling drugs. Here are some suggestions
- Rest for as long as possible
- Do ice packs for 10-15 minutes, at least twice a day
- Wear shoes that fit your foot well
- Avoid shoes that are too low
- Put on a brace or splint overnight to stretch the muscle during sleep hours
If these methods are not successful and the pain is persistent, it is good to consult a doctor to ascertain the extent of the damage, and then choose the most appropriate treatment
Heel pain, therapies
If the pain persists even after prolonged rest, we can resort to manual therapies or instrumental therapies such as: laser therapy, tecar, iontophoresis, shock waves. It is also possible (again based on the triggering cause) to resort to invasive therapy, ranging from local infiltrations to surgical treatment.
The use of the insole
The most effective therapy is the one that can eliminate the cause that triggers the heel pain. If the cause is related to a structural deficit or an anomaly in the support on the ground, the orthopedist may recommend the use of the insole.
There are many types of insoles and not all of them have the same function, which is why it is essential that the insole is prescribed based on the patient's foot problem. In short, the right insole for the right foot!
It may happen that the insole is different between the left and right foot. A wrong insole can also have serious repercussions on the knees, hips and back. Conversely, an adequate insole is able to correct and cure foot pain, the same applies if you have persistent pain in the knee, hip, back.
In fact, the aim is to restore the correct anatomical position of the foot, so as to avoid the cause of the pain and make the step "natural".