What Causes Heel Pain?
Heel pain is a common problem that can be caused by a range of different things. In some circumstances, it can be caused by another illness such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis. However, in most cases, it is a local condition where only the foot is affected. Some of the most common reasons why people experience heel pain include:
This is caused by an abnormal growth of bone in the foot where the plantar fascia, a fibrous tissue band on the sole of the foot that supports the arch, attaches to the heel bone. It is most commonly caused by long-term strain on the foot muscles and plantar fascia and is more likely to be experienced by people who do a lot of running or jogging, or people who are heavily overweight and spend a lot of time on their feet. Wearing shoes that are poorly fitted, poorly constructed or worn can worsen the problem.
This condition is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia. It occurs when this tissue is overstretched or overloaded, leading to small tears in the tissue’s fibres that can be particularly bad at the area where the fascia meets the heel bone. It is possible for just about anybody to develop this condition. However, it is more common in people with diabetes, pregnant women, people who are obese or overweight, and people who participate heavily in a range of exercises including tennis, volleyball, stair climbing or step aerobics. It can also be triggered by pushing large pieces of furniture or appliances, or by wearing poorly constructed or worn shoes. People with flat feet have a higher risk of developing this condition.
This condition occurs due to the inflammation of a bursa. Bursas are sacs that line several joints and work to allow the tendons and muscles to easily move when the joint is moving. An inflamed bursa in the heel may lead to pain felt particularly around the back or underside of the heel. Sometimes it can be related to structural foot problems that lead to an abnormal gait. It can also be caused by wearing shoes that have poorly cushioned heels.
This condition occurs when the centre of the heel bone is irritated, often caused by increased athletic activity or from wearing new shoes. It typically occurs at the back, rather than the bottom of the heel and is a very common cause of heel pain in growing, active children between the ages of eight and fourteen. Kids who participate in sports that require a lot of jumping tend to be more affected by this condition the most.
Posterior Calcaneal Exostosis
Commonly known as ‘pump bump’, this condition is characterised by an abnormal, bony growth situation at the rear of the heel. It’s especially common in young women as it can be caused by long-term bursitis as a result of pressure from wearing pump-style shoes.
This condition is typically triggered by overuse, particularly in relation to excessive jumping during sports. It can also be caused by poorly fitting shoes, particularity when the upper back section of the shoe is digging into the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. It is also sometimes a symptom of inflammatory illnesses such as gout, reactive arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
In some cases, heel pain can be caused by local bruises. Like other parts of your foot, the heel can be bruised accidentally from bumps. Often, this occurs as a result of impact injuries from stepping on objects while walking barefoot, known as a ‘stone bruise’.
The compression of a small nerve in the heel can lead to pain, tingling, or numbness in the area. Nerve compression is often related to a fracture or sprain, and it can also be the result of a swollen (varicose) vein in the area.
What are the Best Products for Foot Pain Symptoms?
The products that you use to relieve the symptoms of heel pain might vary depending on the reason for your symptoms. Common symptoms of the different causes of heel pain might include:
- Plantar fasciitis: This is usually characterised by intense heel pain that is mostly felt along the bottom of the foot and is at its most intense during the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning. In most cases, the heel pain will go away once you begin to walk around but can return later in the day.
- Calcaneal apophysitis: In children, the symptoms of this condition typically include tenderness and pain at the lower back heel. The heel will often be sore to touch, but not obviously swollen.
- Heel spur: While around 10% of the general population has heel spurs according to X-ray evidence, most people do not have any symptoms. However, some people experience symptoms including pain and tenderness on the bottom of the heel that will usually get worse over time.
- Bursitis: In the heel, bursitis leads to pain in the middle of the bottom of the heel that typically gets worse when standing for long periods. You may feel pain at the back of your heel if you bend your foot up or down.
- Bruises: Bruises may be painful and there may be some mild swelling and soreness, along with some discolouration of the skin.
- Trapped nerve: Symptoms include pain, tingling, or numbness anywhere in the heel. in some cases, there may be swelling or discolouration depending on the cause of the trapped nerve.
- Achilles tendonitis: Symptoms include pain and discomfort at the back of the heel, which typically becomes worse after playing sports or exercise.
- Pump bump: A painful enlargement at the back of the heel that is often worsened by wearing shoes that press against it.
Heel Pain Relief Products to Try
There are various products that you can try to relieve a range of heel pain causes.
- Heel Seats: These are inserted into your shoes to provide the right amount of support and cushioning for your heels. They are the ideal choice if your heel pain has been caused by a condition that is related to standing for long periods of time.
- Anti-inflammatory heel pain cream: In conditions where inflammation is present such as bursitis, anti-inflammatory creams can help to relieve pain and swelling around the heel.
- Foot stretchers: To prevent heel injuries brought on by playing sports and exercise, a foot stretcher is an ideal product to help you get a deeper and perfectly positioned stretch while you warm up.
- Compression heel pain relief socks: These socks offer gentle yet firm compression that is designed to promote blood circulation to the feet and reduce swelling.
- Foot massagers: A good foot massager or spa can help to reduce tension, decrease swelling and inflammation, and help to relieve pain.
- Over the counter painkillers: Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be very effective in relieving foot pain. Ibuprofen, in particular, is recommended for any pain that is caused by inflammation.
Foot Pain Relief Products for Plantar Fasciitis
Some foot pain relief products work better for plantar fasciitis than others. If you are suffering from this painful condition, there are several options available if you’re looking for a product that will help you get some relief and nurse your feet back to health. Some of the best products for plantar fasciitis include:
- Foot massage balls: These massage balls designed especially for plantar fasciitis are great for pain relief. You can easily keep them in your bag to use whenever your heel pain is getting worse. Simply roll it along the bottom of your foot for a few minutes to get quick pain relief, reduce knots and tightness, and improve blood flow.
- KT tape: If you’re suffering with plantar fasciitis, your plantar fascia will need some extra support. You can use KT tape to tape up your foot and arch, limiting movement while you heal and offering extra support and compression that will relieve your pain.
Pain Relief With the Best Ointment for Heel Pain
There are various creams and ointments out there that claim to relieve heel pain. Ointments and creams with anti-inflammatory properties are some of the best options if your heel pain is a result of swelling and inflammation. Along with the ingredients in the cream, the action of gently massaging it into your heels and feet can also provide some pain relief.
What to Look for in Heel Pain Ointment
Some things to look for when choosing a cream or ointment to help with heel pain include:
- Moisturising properties
- Vitamins and other soothing ingredients
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Non-greasy and good consistency
Which Shoes Are Best for Heel Pain?
Finally, if you are dealing with heel pain, wearing the right shoes is important. Your footwear can either worsen your pain or support your feet and relieve pain, so choose wisely. You should avoid wearing shoes that are unsupportive of the arch and heel, and definitely steer clear of wearing any shoes that are worn out. High heels are also best avoided. A shoe that offers good cushioning and support is ideal. You may also want to consider adding extra arch or heel support in the form of a cushioned or gel insole.
Heel pain can be caused by a range of issues. If you’re dealing with this right now, there are several great products available for pain relief and quicker healing.