What is Heel Pain?
Heel pain is very common. Because the heel is the largest bone in the foot and the first part of the foot to contact the ground during walking, it absorbs the most pressure. In most cases, heel pain is not the result of any single injury, as a fall or twist, but rather the result of repetitive or excessive heel pounding and inflammation due to overuse.
What Causes Heel Pain?
Heel pain is often the result of too much stress or pressure on the ligaments that support the foot. Heel pain can also be the result of repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. There are two structures located on the sole of the foot that is most often associated with heel pain: the plantar fascia ligament and the flexor digitorium Brevis muscle.
The same physical activities that cause conditions like plantar fasciitis and heel spurs contribute to heel pain. Common causes of heel pain include:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Heel Spurs
- Excessive Pronation
- Achilles Tendinitis
- Mechanical deficiencies that cause gait abnormalities
- Tight calf muscles that limit ankle flexibility
- Being overweight or obese
- Poor shoe choices
- Activities that demand extended time on your feet
How is Heel Pain Treated?
There are various treatment methods available to relieve heel pain. Most people will start with home remedies like ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation. But when heel pain persists for more than a month or two, and home remedies are no longer sufficient, you should contact your podiatrist. He or she will likely recommend one or more of the following non-invasive treatments:
- Custom orthotics
- Various stretching exercises
- Shoe replacement
- Physical therapy
Most cases of heel pain can be treated with conservative methods. Anti-inflammatory medications and injections are also very effective ways to treat heel pain. In some cases, surgery may be recommended.
Custom Orthotics for Heel Pain
Custom molded orthotic devices are prescription inserts that are to be worn with shoes to reduce, eliminate and prevent heel pain. Be mindful that the over-the-counter orthotics are not designed to treat the causes of heel pain. They are simply designed to add cushioning for worn out shoes and do not have specific design features that address the biomechanical causes of heel pain.
The mechanical properties of custom foot orthotics help to ensure the correct positioning of the bones in the feet, ankles, and knees. The muscles and ligaments leading up to the hips and holding the leg bones in place are prevented from stretching over time, which can lead to further injury and aggravation. Custom orthotics can also reduce muscular fatigue and may help to promote more efficient muscle performance.
Contact our office today to find if custom orthotics can reduce your heel pain!