Heel Pain – overview

Heel discomfort is a common complaint seen in hospitals and private clinics.

According to one report, the prevalence of plantar heel pain in the population is around 9.8%. As for debilitating plantar heel issues, the numbers are not better, with up to 7.9% of the population dealing with functional disability.

The reason behind the high prevalence of heel pain boils down to the complex anatomy of the ankle region, which consists of 26 bones, 33 articulations, and around 100 tendons.

In this article, we will briefly cover the causes of heel discomfort then switch gears to the treatment options.

The causes of heel pain

The causes of heel discomfort are diverse and include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sprains and strains
  • Achilles tendonitis (AT)
  • Bursitis
  • Heel bumps
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Stress fracture

The treatment of heel pain

If you are dealing with heel pain, here are some ways to relieve it:

  • Avoid any form of strenuous exercise.
  • Apply ice on your heel for 15–25 minutes.
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers (e.g., acetaminophen).
  • Wear comfortable shoes that don’t irritate the heel.
  • Wear a night splint (a device that stretches the foot while you sleep).

In case these methods are unsuccessful in relieving your pain, it may be time to visit your doctor or podiatrist to get a tailored treatment approach.

After taking your history and performing a thorough physical examination, your doctor may order a foot X-ray to narrow down the cause of your heel pain. Once the etiology (i.e., cause) is clear, treating your pain becomes more effective.

In some cases, you may also need physical therapy, especially when your heel pain is chronic. This will strengthen the muscles and tendons around your foot to prevent further damage.

Takeaway message

Heel pain is a common symptom that most people experience at some point. Fortunately, and with the development in the field of foot medicine, we can treat this condition rapidly and effectively.



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Disclaimer:  This information is provided as an educational service only, and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.  Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance should consult his or her doctor or orthopedic surgeon.