The annoying pain that occurs under the heel, behind it, or on the outer and inner foot sides is referred to as heel pain. Many people suffer from heel pain when walking and, although not an incredibly serious affliction, it tends to cause a great deal of frustration and may result in other complications.
Types of Heel Pain
Heel pain may refer to any affliction that happens around the general heel area. As a point of a large amount of weight distribution, the heel is prone to wear and tear over time. This is why every part of the actual heel is at risk of developing health issues.
There are two main recognized types of heel pain, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. While plantar fasciitis results in painful sensations under the heel, Achilles tendinitis affects the area behind the heel, as well as the inner and outer sides of the heel and foot.
This affliction is by far the most common type of heel pain. Although it can be triggered by a variety of causes (from a stress fracture to arthritis), it is important to note that plantar fasciitis always results in the same painful sensation. However, having it properly diagnosed is essential, because the underlying source of the condition is the key to successful treatment.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the band of tissue that extends from the heel to the toes becomes inflamed. It’s the fascia that first becomes irritated and it’s followed by inflammation that results in heel pain.
Walking in uncomfortable footwear and having a higher body weight are frequent causes here. People with preexisting foot issues, such as flat feet or high-arched feet are particularly prone to developing plantar fasciitis. The condition is also common among people with job descriptions that require long hours standing.
If you experience heel pain when walking, particularly on the bottom of the heel or in the arch of the foot, you should get checked for plantar fasciitis. This pain tends to be worse upon arising from the sedentary position and will likely slowly increase over time. Swelling on the bottom of the heel doesn’t occur in most cases, but when it does, it is a fairly good indicator of plantar fasciitis.
Tendinitis is an inflammation or irritation of the tendons (thick fibrous cords that connect the muscle and the bone). Achilles tendinitis is when this issue occurs on the Achilles tendon. Although heel pain when walking likely isn’t a sign of Achilles tendinitis, getting it checked out by a professional is a good idea.
This ailment is most commonly found in runners and fast walkers, especially if they run/fast walk on concrete. The pain doesn’t tend to occur overnight, but as a result of repetitive/intense strain on the Achilles tendon. Although runners are most prone to this issue, this tendon is used for walking, as well as pushing up on your toes, so these activities may also cause Achilles tendinitis if exercised excessively.
Usually, Achilles tendinitis causes pain that actually begins as a mild ache in the back of your heel or above the heel. You’re especially likely to experience it after running or other sports activities that put a great deal of strain on the Achilles tendon. Prolonged running, sprinting, and stair climbing may result in more severe pain. Achilles tendinitis often causes stiffness and tenderness in the morning, which improves with mild activity.
Both types of heel pain are very treatable and aren’t too serious. The most dangerous thing about heel pain is that it may cause other, more complex issues. This is why visiting the doctor if an issue persists is so important. But if the pain is mild, you can try and see if it goes away by resting.
Plantar fasciitis can vary in the amounts of pain that it causes, but it typically doesn’t require surgery. There are many treatment options, but you should start with these ones before paying a visit to your doctor.
- You should avoid going barefoot, despite what people may be telling you about this being healthy. Walking without shoes strains and stresses your plantar fascia.
- Put an icepack on your heel several times per day for, 20 minutes at a time, to reduce inflammation. Of course, in order to protect your skin, put a thin towel between your skin and the ice.
- Supportive shoes or supportive modifications can help a lot with plantar fasciitis. Orthopedic footwear is recommended.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs will help reduce inflammation.
If the issues persist after a few weeks, go visit your doctor, who will recommend additional treatment options. If plantar fasciitis doesn’t respond to the outlined nonsurgical treatment, you’ll likely need surgery.
Achilles tendinitis is risky because it can severely weaken your tendon, making it more susceptible to damage. This is called a “rupture” and will require surgical intervention. Fortunately, Achilles tendinitis isn’t too much of a stubborn and problematic ailment, and preventing it is easy to do.
- Take a break with physical activity. Even if you don’t exercise a lot, try resting for a couple of days.
- Increase the levels of physical activity gradually, after a few days of rest. This will make sure that you avoid causing a reoccurrence of Achilles tendinitis.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Uncomfortable shoes put too much strain on your foot.
- Stretch every day. This will not only help with Achilles tendinitis but will make you more limber in general, helping you avoid other strains and injuries.
- Work on your calf muscles. When your issue is healed, stand on a step with your toes and use your calf muscles to raise your body up and down. This will strengthen your calf muscles and protect your Achilles tendon.
Don’t Strain Yourself
Especially not when experiencing heel pain. It may sound ridiculous, but if you keep on pushing while your heel hurts, you may even end up with your foot in a cast. Increase your workouts gradually, be careful when exercising and walking, and don’t force it. Oh, and stretch regularly.