It is very easy to injure one of your heels whenever you do sports or other strenuous activities. This is especially common among athletes due to overwork, as well as with overweight or obese people due to the added pressure on the heels.
There are several types of heel pains, each with their own different causes and treatment options. Identifying the cause of the heel pain is ideal, as it will make it easier to determine the best path forward for heel pain treatment. If you are unsure of the exact cause, you may want to consult with a physical therapy clinic such as Physioactive here in Singapore.
Possible Causes of Heel Pain
The following are some of the possible factors that contribute to heel pain:
- Muscle sprains or strains – Athletes are particularly vulnerable to this since overworking your muscles increases the chances of getting a sprain or a strain. A bad landing or an unexpected turn of your foot during a game can sprain or strain your muscles and cause extreme heel pain.
- Plantar fasciitis – The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. When there is too much pressure on the heel, your plantar fascia may be inflamed and causes some stiffness and intense heel pain. This is very common with runners and overweight people.
- Bone fracture – Another possible injury you can get from intense physical activity is a fracture, in which your bone or part of the bone breaks. If a bone in your foot breaks, it can cause extreme heel pain and will need to be treated immediately. If a fracture is not detected and dealt with immediately, it can cause permanent damage.
- Achilles tendonitis – One of the most important tendons in the body is the Achilles tendon as it attaches the heel to the calf muscles. When you get injured on or near the ankle area, your Achilles may get inflamed, which causes intense pain on the heel and ankle.
- Bursitis – Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushions that bones, muscles and tendons near the joints. Your bursae can get inflamed when you do intense physical activities and can cause intense pain. It is important to get immediate medical attention for bursitis.
- Osteochondrosis – This is a degenerative condition that usually starts in childhood and affects the growth and development of your bones. Osteochondrosis can cause bone abnormalities such as smaller size and can be the cause of heel pain.
Heel Pain Treatments
There are many treatment options available for heel pain and is dependent on what causes it:
- Bed rest – For most mild heel pains, simple bed rest is often enough to allow the pain to disappear. Try to avoid moving your affected foot to avoid causing further pain or damage. if ever the pain suddenly becomes intense, consult with your doctor immediately.
- Painkillers – Ibuprofen and aspirin can help you deal with mild to intense heel pain. Remember though that this only deals with the sensation of pain but does not directly address what causes the heel pain. Have your foot checked by your doctor so that he/she can give you treatment options for the cause.
- Ice packs – If painkiller medication is not readily available, then applying an ice pack over the heel can help numb the pain. Your doctor may advise you to apply an ice pack over the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes each day as a treatment for mild to moderate heel pain.
- Shoe inserts and heel lifts – These are special devices that your specialist may prescribe to cushion the heel area and limit its movement when wearing shoes and footwear.
- Night splint – This is a device you attach to your foot that stretches the foot muscles as you sleep. This can help relieve the heel pain overnight.
- Physical therapy – If none of the above is working to subside the pain, then your doctor may advise you to see a physical therapist. The therapist will prescribe several different exercises and routines that are tailor-fit for your case of heel pain. He/she will also give you advice on the proper aftercare procedures when your physical therapy program is done.
- Surgery – For extreme cases where the pain is caused by something inside the foot, then your specialist may advise you to get surgery. This usually happens for bone fractures or when a ligament or tendon gets torn from an injury.
What Food to Eat and Avoid after Heel Pain Treatment
Physioactive recommends the following food tips for faster recovery after a heel pain treatment:
- Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods
Food that is rich in magnesium, calcium and vitamin C are great for reducing inflammation on the heel. Some of these foods include oranges, spinach, nuts, seeds and beans.
- Avoid food that increases inflammation
On the other hand, you want to avoid food that can cause further inflammation to your heel muscles and tissues. Foods with high sugar content are one of the main culprits in worsening inflammation, as well as processed grains and saturated or trans fats. Processed foods are a no-no as well and may increase recovery time.
- Be disciplined in your diet
Once you’ve set your mind on a dietary plan, do your best to stick to it throughout the whole recovery process. Cheat days are ok as long as they are done moderately.
Camden Medical Centre #11-05
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