Foot Pain, Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis Pain
Heel spur or plantar fasciitis - a severe form of heel pain
Foot pain is a common problem and can be very disabling or debilitating. The pain in the heel caused by a heel spur or by plantar fasciitis can be severe and may persist for weeks or months.
Typically the pain of a heel spur is felt at the front of the heel and is often worse first thing in the morning on putting the painful foot to the ground.
Heel spur pain is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia - the gristle on the sole of the foot - where it anchors itself to the front of the heel bone. The medical name for the heel bone is the calcaneum and the spur can sometimes be referred to as a calcaneal spur.
Heel Spur pain of this sort is one of the most disabling pain conditions known. Sufferer's experience a searing pain along the sole of the foot - and the pain seems to spread from the heel spur area towards the big toe.
Heel Spur pain or front of heel pain often arises after unaccustomed activity such as walking or running. Alternatively, the heel pain may be triggered by day to day walking in boots or shoes that do not properly support the arch of the foot . Wellington boots are a common heel spur culprit but other types of footwear can also be at fault.
Rarely this heel pain condition can be part of a more widespread form of arthritis but this is unusual. In most sufferers the underlying trigger is a loss of the arch of the foot - so called flat feet!
The heel discomfort of a heel spur is worse when walking and usually eased by rest. It can be made worse by tightness in the muscles of the calf or in the achilles tendon and stretching these tissues can be helpful in relieving the discomfort in the heel.
A doctor, podiatrist or physical therapist who examines a patient with this type of heel pain will typically find a loss of the arch of the foot, tightness in the calf muscles and a very, very tender spot on the front of the heel bone.
In some patients an X-ray may show a "heel spur." This spur can look dramatic but in fact it's a bit of a red herring. The Heel Spur arises as a result of the inflammation and is not the cause of it. Many patients who have severe heel pain do not have a heel spur seen on x-ray and many patients who do have a heel spur have no pain in the heel! - see the X-ray below.
Treatment of Heel Pain
Heel Spur Pain relief
Local anti-inflammatory gels often help. Anti-inflammatory pain killers such as ibuprofen can be beneficial.
If these simple measures fail to relieve the foot pain then an injection of steroid and local anaesthetic often gives dramatic and lasting relief
Stretch the calf and the achilles tendon
Friction massage across the inflamed area is often very helpful - useful tip - the sufferer can do this for himself or herself by trapping a golf ball between the heel and the floor in a stockinged foot and rolling it around the heel with pressure down towards the floor.
I once suffered personally from Heel Spur Pain and was lucky enough to be given an electronic foot massage unit to try by a friend. No miracle cure but boy did it make life easier for a few weeks. Take a look at this link to a Foot Massager Unit that you can purchase from Amazon.com.
Sort out the mechanics of the foot
Arch supports - best not used until the pain has settled a bit - but very important in preventing recurrence
Heel pads - these come in a variety of styles but are often helpful. A better option may be to invest in a really good pair of running shoes - seek out a specialist running shop (whatever age or size you are) and ask for help to choose a pair that feel right for you. Try on at least three or four different manufacturers shoes - You'll know when you find the right ones - and the difference when you walk will be amazing.
If fashion or practicality dictates that you simply must keep wearing your own day to day shoes then purchase a pair of good quality Heel Pad Cushions - remember that time will eventually resolve most heel pain of this type but you need to find a way to keep functional in the meantime - don't you!
Read more about heel spur pain by following the links below:
Heel Pain Treatment
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Lower back pain and back pain - a guide to surviving the back pain ordeal
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