The most common cause of localised heel pain, is Plantar Fasciitis (PF), known as ‘heel spurs’. This condition involves inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of the foot that connects to the inside of the heel bone.
The soft tissue damage of the plantar fascia is what causes most of the heel pain symptoms. However due to the pull of the fascia on the heel bone, heel spurs will also form with this condition.
Heel pain generally starts off slowly and gets worse over a period of time. It is more prevalent in those who are overweight or begin a new exercise training program.
The plantar fascia is a very important structure in the foot as it maintains the arch and assists the foot in propelling forward when walking.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis:
- Due to excessive stain on the fascia from abnormal biomechanics and gait.
- Excessive pronation (rolling in of the feet/ flat feet).
- Associated with tight calf muscles/strains.
- Sudden increase in activity levels.
- Improper training programs.
- Footwear modifications.
- Weight gain or loss.
- Range of motion deficits.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis:
- Pain on the inside of the heel or arch.
- Pain and discomfort after periods of rest.
- Increased pain with first steps in the morning.
- Minimal to no pain when resting or at night.
- Heel pain before and after exercise.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis:
- Treat the inflammation only in acute injuries (rest, ice, compression, elevation, anti-inflammatory medication, Voltaren gels).
- Shock Wave Therapy (Clinically proven to resolve 70-80% of heel pain cases).
- Foot Mobilisation Therapy
- Tool Assisted Massage
- Review of footwear and training regime.
- Release of the plantar fascia and calf muscles.
- Assessment of gait and biomechanics of the foot by the podiatrist.
- Temporary strapping of foot.
- Orthotic therapy.
- Dry Needling.
- Gradual rehabilitation program with return to activity.
The recovery time for PF can range from 6 to 10 months, with 95% of patients responding to conservative treatment. It is important to treat heel pain as soon as possible to prevent further damage, pain and longer healing times.
Well Heeled Podiatry commonly encounter this type of heel pain and can provide you with an individualised treatment regime to speed up the recovery process.