Have you ever walked a few miles wearing the wrong shoes? Or strolled too long in the mall with your high heels? If so, you might have experienced excruciating pain in your heel that caused you to have to sit down and rest.
Each of your feet is composed of 26 bones, with the heel bone being the largest. Most of your body’s weight is concentrated at your heels and it is responsible for absorbing the impact each time your foot makes contact with the ground.
Even though your heels’ capacity for carrying weight is fairly large, too much stress can eventually push it to its limits and lead to heel pain. A sore heel usually doesn’t need further intervention aside from rest. However, if you continue to walk around with sore heels, it may cause further problems.
What causes heel pain?
Heel pain is often associated with obesity and is prevalent in people with higher BMI and those who are physically inactive. People who are on their feet all day and in manual operations careers are also more prone to sore heels. Sore heels are not usually a direct result of a single injury; it is often caused by repetitive stress and overuse. The common causes of heel pain include:
Inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament that runs from the heel to the tip of the foot. Plantar fasciitis results from doing activities that put too much repetitive stress and tension in the area.
A heel spur, also known as a calcaneal spur, is a bony, pointed outgrowth of calcium deposits caused by repetitive stress on the heel bone. Heel spurs are also associated with plantar fasciitis and are usually described as a stabbing pain at the bottom of the heel.
Achilles tendonitis, which is characterized by the degeneration of the Achilles tendon in the back of your calf over time.
Heel bumps, which can be caused by having flat feet or wearing high heels with underdeveloped bones in teenagers.
A pinched or trapped nerve, also known as tarsal tunnel syndrome, can also occur in the foot or ankle and cause pain similar to the way a carpal tunnel syndrome can cause wrist pain.
A fracture caused by stress. Repetitive stress caused by exercise, heavy work or sports can fracture your heels. This is particularly common in athletes.
Gout, or rise in uric acid levels. The affected person may find walking and standing difficult due to the excruciating pain.
Other causes of heel pain that are worth knowing include:
Rupture of the Achilles or heel tendon
Incorrect posture when walking or running
What are some home treatments for sore heels?
There are simple ways to ease heel pain at home.
Cold compress. Placing an ice pack on your sore heels can help ease swelling and relieve pain.
Do gentle heel stretches. Stretch your heels gently by arching your foot upwards and downwards.
Use heel pads. Heel pads are cushioned and padded to protect your heels from tension and stress when wearing shoes.
Limit activities. While recovering from heel pain, limit your activities, avoid standing too long, and avoid walking long distances. This removes unwanted pressure from your heels which allows a faster recovery.
Avoid going barefoot or wearing flat shoes. Going barefoot and wearing flat shoes throws all your weight onto your heels, which may further worsen your heel pain.
Take over-the-counter pain relievers to get rid of pain caused by inflammation and provide mild-to-moderate pain relief.
Have a foot massage. A massage can help relax your tense foot muscles and connective tissues, which might be what you need to relieve heel pain.
Getting adequate rest and wearing a proper-fitting, well-padded footwear might be all you need to counter heel pain. However, if these home treatment tips do not work, it might be time to visit your doctor and get your heels checked.