Heel Pain Is Curable
Ever had the fear to place your foot on the floor just to find out that it hurts A LOT more…?
Well guess what? You are not alone in this, many experience heel pain. This is very commonly seen across all age groups.
When visited for this pain, your doctor might have given you fancy names like Plantar fascitis / Plantar fasciopathy / heel spur (commonly) and you realize that your fear has grown much more. But the problem isn’t as frightening as the name sounds. With some basic science about what is actually happening, you can understand that the whole issue isn’t a nightmare but just a challenge.
Our foot is made up of 28 bones forming 31 joints, many small muscles, numerous ligaments, fasciae and fat. Muscles from the leg also get attached to the bones on the foot. This basic structure is given by nature to provide the base for our body, to aid in movements such as walking, running, climbing, dancing, etc. and also providing stability.
Pain in the heel is mostly due to chronic / overuse or underuse to any of these soft tissue structures resulting in injury.
These insults to the tissue causes the myofascial structures to form “trigger points” that may cause pain- either referred elsewhere or over these triggers itself.
Though pain may be noticed suddenly, it is generally due to multiple traumas that these tissues go through over a period of time finally giving in and showing up as pain one fine morning. Other causes for acute pain can also be bone fractures or fat pad contusion that a physician can easily rule out and help in diagnosis.
Who are prone?
1. Persons leading a sedentary lifestyle and seated most of the time resulting in the loss of muscle mass and strength resulting in injuries to muscles and tissues while doing normal daily work.
2. Sudden increase in weight or Increased BMI causing stress on the tissues.
3. Long standing work on a hard surface like workers in factories or even persons doing long-standing kitchen or household chores.
4. Repetitive stress on heel as in running.
5. Unaccustomed or increased training volume in athletes.
6. Adopting wrong mechanics while running.
7. Ill fitting shoes for play or work.
8. Using the same shoe for a long time (maybe for luck! Pun intended) and athletes using shoes with spikes on the outsoles for a long time and duration.
9. People with knee alignment differences (knee varus).
10. People with foot alignment differences (foot cavus or high arched foot).
11. Reduced flexibility of the ankle joint, calf muscle group and hamstring muscles.
How to prevent?
1. Leading an active life.
2. Stretching the muscles around the ankle, calf and hamstrings ensures that your muscles are flexible and ready for your sport or recreation.
3. Proper warm-ups before any game and cool downs after the game(leisure or competition) will definitely help. Flexibility is key to injury prevention.
4. Investing on a well fitted and correct shoe for the sport you play.
5. In case of wearing a formal/ dress shoe for prolonged hours you may augment the sole with heel pads or orthoses available.
6. Ball rolls for the foot helps to alleviate pain.
What you can do and what to expect?
1. Do not panic or worry if you have pain. It can be very disabling, we know. But remember, anxiousness actually can worsen pain. Now with the basic understanding you have you may ease a little.
2. Visit a professional and get evaluated. They will be able to diagnose and guide you. Sudden weight gain particularly needs to be evaluated apart from the gait (mechanics of walking), foot posture, running and ergonomic – biomechanical assessments.
3. Understand that these issues do not mostly require any investigation (X-ray or MRI) and can be easily resolved.
4. Treatment may include soft tissue therapies, taping and correction of abnormal mechanics through mobilization and exercises.
5. Don’t be in haste! After treatment and rehabilitation, take things slowly to reach your full potential and you’ll return to normalcy easily.
• Is heel pain treatable? Yes
• Will a steroid injection help? No, Not really
• Will I need surgery? Never
• Will I become alright! 100% absolutely!
Now that you know so much, I am sure “you’ll have the world under your heel!”