Heel pain can be a complex problem, but many times it results just from overuse of the foot. Heel pain can also result from running, especially with poor form, shoes with insufficient support, a sudden injury to the heel, and physical conditions, such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, a pinched nerve at the back of the foot, heel spurs or stress fractures. The best way to treat your heel pain usually involves an integrative physical therapy program that uses both stretching and manual techniques.
Before prescribing such a program, we will examine your knees, hips, ankles and feet to assess impairment and restrictions. We can teach you to use exercises to help relieve pain and swelling while improving your mobility. These include stretching exercises focused on the calves, which then stretch the heel cord, and grabbing the base of your toes and pulling them toward your shin to stretch the foot. We can also ascertain whether you are a candidate for hands-on therapy involving trigger-point soft-tissue techniques applied to the calf.
You can take some steps to alleviate the pain in your heel. The following home care tips can make a difference:
- Ice the affected area at least twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes, more often for the first few days.
- Rest the foot for at least a week to allow the inflammation to “cool” down.
- Take an over-the-counter agent such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and inflammation if recommended by your physician.
- Obtain and wear proper-fitting shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
- Use a heel cup, felt pads in the heel area or a shoe insert in your existing footwear.
Improving muscular strength and balance can protect you from a recurrence of injury and pain. Should your heel pain require surgical intervention, we can design an exercise program to complement your recovery. Following a personalized exercise program will encourage heel pain healing, avert any future injuries and keep your feet in healthy, active condition.