Heel pain can result from tight calf muscles, biomechanical problems with the feet, or walking gait abnormalities such as pronation — an inward rolling of the feet. It can also come from heel trauma during sports or wearing poorly fitting or worn out shoes. Other foot conditions may contribute to heel pain, too, such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, or heel spurs, which are bony growths of calcium deposits on the heels. Wearing high heels and being overweight can also cause heel pain. All of these causes put excessive pressure and physical stress on the heel bones and the surrounding soft tissues, which causes inflammation and pain. There are also medical conditions that can cause heel pain, and a thorough history of each patient is necessary to assess probable causes of heel pain.
Treatment usually includes anti-inflammatory medications given orally or by injection. When the meds reduce the inflammation, your pain level decreases and you’ll feel better. Dr. Kraft may also suggest stretching exercises to loosen and stretch tight calf muscles and the Achilles heel tendons. She may recommend over-the-counter arch supports to correct excessive pronation or use a special type of medical tape to tape your foot for stabilization and support. Heel pad shoe inserts may be helpful to cushion your heels from the physical stress of walking and standing. Other treatments can include wearing special splints at night to stretch the calf muscles or custom-made functional orthotics designed to correct abnormal physical forces that are contributing to your heel pain. Dr. Kraft may need to order blood testing to evaluate for medical conditions that may cause heel pain, if necessary.
If you’re carrying excess pounds, Dr. Kraft may advise you lose some weight. Keeping your weight within the target zone for your height and body frame will reduce the physical stress placed on your heels. Wearing shoes with a heel height of 2 inches or less can also help, because higher heels exert too much pressure on the heel bones when walking and standing. If your exercise routine or sports activities involve a lot of jumping on hard or uneven surfaces, you’ll want replace them with lower-impact endeavors.
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