It’s day 1 of the #podshealheels campaign, a UK-wide campaign for podiatrists; and it seems fitting to start off with some information about heel pain and the different types of heel pain that I see in the Amy Maclean Podiatry clinic.
Why someone gets heel pain.
Heel pain is one of the most common foot complaints and is often misdiagnosed; there are many reasons for someone to experience heel pain and I have listed some of the most common types I see in clinic here (P.S this is by no means an exhaustive list):
- Plantar fasciitis
- Fracture of the heel bone
- Achillies tendonitis
- Sever’s disease
- Being overweight
The function of the heel in walking is to absorb the shock of your feet when it hits the ground. It is made up of a big bone called the calcaneum and is held in place by a number of strong ligaments that run between the front of the calcaneum and various other parts of the foot.
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs across the sole of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.
When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it is painful and is often localised to the insertion point of the heel bone. This condition is called plantar fasciitis and whilst associated with heel pain in runners, can often be aggravated if you wear heavy work boots or stand a lot during the day.
The Lover’s Fracture
A fracture to the heel bone is often called the Lover’s Fracture- this is comes from the fact that a lover may jump from great heights while trying to escape from the lover’s spouse!
In reality, this type of fracture often comes from jumping from a height or landing on a very hard surface. So same thing yes?!
Achillies tendonitis occurs when there has been overuse to the tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the calcaneum. You use your calf muscle to be able to walk, run, jump and stand on your tip toes; continuous, intense physical activity can lead to inflammation and irritation of the Achillies tendon.
Sever’s disease is a condition that occurs in active children and it’s the most common cause of heel pain in children aged 5-11. It’s caused by inflammation due to overuse or excessive force on the growth plate of the heel – the growth plate is an area of the bones in children and adolescents where the bone creates new tissue to grow and shape the developing bone.
Sever’s occurs mainly in children and often at the start of a new sporting season due to the excessive force on the heel at this time.
By the age of 15, Sever’s is very unlikely to occur as the growth plate on the heel has hardened due to the bone being fully grown.
Being overweight or gaining weight in a short space of time can have a bearing on heel pain, this is due to the increased force going through the foot.
You don’t have to be obese to run into problems, but even 10kg extra can cause more strain on the tissues in the foot which can lead to overuse and pain.
How to treat heel pain.
Rest is always a good idea if you are experiencing heel pain as ignoring pain can irritate the symptoms, cause more problems for you and disruption to your daily activity plan for a longer period of time.
Secondly, visit your local podiatrist!
One of the main reasons for a campaign like #podshealheels to to highlight the work a podiatrist can do for someone with heel pain (or any kind of foot and lower limb pain) – diagnosis of a pain or injury is really the best way to put together a treatment plan and get you moving again.