Heel pain or heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis . Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the connective tissue between bones (ligaments) on the sole of the foot, to be precise between the heel and the arch of the foot.
Pain in the heel can feel mild to severe, even to the point that it can interfere with movement. This pain can appear when waking up, when walking, or during pregnancy.
In fact, the feet can support the weight of the body. However, heels can hurt due to pressure on the feet that exceeds the limit or causes interference with the sensitive tissues in the feet, especially the heels and ankles.
A sore heel will usually heal on its own after the foot is rested. However, many people ignore the initial symptoms of heel pain, until the pain gets worse and triggers other foot problems.
Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain generally occurs due to foot movements, both daily movements and during sports. Heel pain can also arise from wearing shoes that are too narrow so that the tissue around the heel is injured.
Some conditions that can cause damage to the tissue around the heel and make the heel sore are:
1. Plantar fasciitis
This condition generally occurs due to too much running or jumping, causing inflammation of the connective tissue between the bones (ligaments) in the soles of the feet.
2. Bruises on the heel fat
This condition can occur when the foot steps on a hard object, such as a rock. As a result, the fat pad at the bottom of the heel becomes bruised.
3. Calcification of the heels
Plantar fasciitis that occurs repeatedly and prolonged can cause calcification of the ligament. This condition is known as a heel spur .
4. Achilles tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon , the large tendon at the back of the ankle that connects the heel bone and calf muscles. This condition often occurs as a result of exercise.
5. Osteophyte formation
Osteophytes are new bone growths that can protrude and press against the heel tissue, causing heel pain.
Bursitis is inflammation of the joint around the heel.
Heel Pain Symptoms
Heel pain is characterized by pain in the sole of the foot, especially between the arch and heel. Heel pain may worsen when walking or lifting the foot. Apart from the heel, pain can also appear on the ankle or calf when standing on tiptoe.
The characteristics of pain in the heel can also vary, depending on the cause. For example, heel pain from plantar fasciitis will feel like it is being stabbed and throbbing. Usually, this pain occurs when you first take your first steps after waking up in the morning, or when you stand up after sitting for a long time.
Meanwhile, heel pain that feels like it's burning or tight can occur as a result of Achilles tendinitis .
Apart from pain, heel pain can also be accompanied by:
- Heel swelling
- The heel feels stiff
- Feet look flushed
- Crackling sound when walking
- Hard to walk
When to see a doctor
Sufferers of sore heels can manage pain by doing treatment at home. Treatment can be done by resting your feet or taking pain relievers, such as paracetamol .
However, treatment by a doctor is needed if:
- Heel pain keeps getting worse
- Heel pain suddenly gets worse
- Heel pain does not go away after 2 to 3 weeks of treatment
- The heel becomes red or swollen
- It's hard to walk because of the pain in the heel
Diagnosis of Heel Pain
Initially, the doctor will ask about symptoms and perform a physical examination to see the condition of the foot or heel. The patient will be asked to walk or stand so the doctor can find out the location and cause of the pain. After that, the doctor will check the condition of the patient's feet when wearing shoes.
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform a scan with an X-ray or MRI. The examination aims to see the condition of the patient's heel so that the doctor can determine the right treatment.
Heel Pain Treatment
Sore heels can be treated with self-care at home. Some efforts that can be done are:
- Rest your feet and raise your heels to a higher position than your chest while lying down.
- Cool heel compresses for 10–15 minutes twice a day.
- Wear shoes that are comfortable, not tight, and have low heels. For more comfort, use heel pads in shoes.
- Don't walk or stand for too long, and rest your feet if you walk or stand for too long.
- Wrap the area around the heel and ankle with a bandage, to support the sore heel or ankle.
- Do stretching exercises slowly and regularly.
If the pain does not subside with home treatment, the doctor will suggest the following treatment methods:
Physiotherapy aims to strengthen the muscles and other tissues of the feet, such as ligaments and tendons, and prevent foot injuries.
If the heel pain feels unbearable, the doctor can give painkillers and anti-inflammatories, both taken by mouth or injected into the feet. This medication aims to relieve signs of inflammation, including pain and swelling.
Although it rarely happens, orthopedic doctors can perform surgery to treat disorders of the heel. However, keep in mind, this heel surgery requires a long recovery time and does not always get rid of heel pain.
Heel Pain Complications
Heel pain can interfere with or hinder movement when stepping, walking, or doing everyday activities. This condition can change the way sufferers walk so that sufferers can lose balance, fall easily, and are prone to injury.
Prevention of Heel Pain
The following steps can be taken to prevent injuries that can cause heel pain:
- Wear shoes that fit properly
- Wear shoes that are suitable for the type of sport or activity being carried out
- Stretch the muscles first before exercising
- Implement a healthy diet and maintain an ideal body weight
- Rest when you feel tired or when your muscles ache