Heel pain is a common foot complaint. It is frequently caused by bearing too much weight or overuse of a heel. When walking, the stress on the foot is an additional 1.25 times the individual’s body weight but can go as high as 2.75 times when running. Although it can be injured, is not common to hear of heel injuries. Heel pain is usually found at the underside (sole) of the feet or behind the heel. Heel pain is rarely a symptom for a serious underlying health problem, however, it can disrupt an individual’s day-to-day activities.
The foot is an intricate network of bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. It is designed to handle heavy weight but too much stress may test the foot’s limit. The heel is specifically designed to provide a firm support to the human body weight, thus it is prone to pain and damage. It is necessary to apply first aid in cases of heel pain to avoid aggravating the pain and instead, hasten the healing time.
Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain is often caused by overuse of the feet with the pain manifesting in the heel as it is designed to provide a firm support for the human body’s weight. The following are the possible causes of heel pain:
- Running in hard surfaces like concrete
- Running too often
- Poor shock absorption or support
- Landing hard or awkwardly on the heel
- Sudden inward or outward turning of the heel
- Calf muscle or Achilles tendon tightening
- Flat-footed feet
- Stress fracture
- Medical conditions:
- Plantar fasciitis: thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot swells
- Achilles tendinitis: large tendon connecting the calf muscle to the heel inflames
- Heel bursitis: back of the heel inflames
- Bone spurs in the heel
When to See a Doctor Regarding Heel Pain
Heel pain usually gradually increases in pain, thus it is often neglected. The following tips should help an individual determine when it may be time to seek medical help
- When to visit the doctor immediately
- Inability to bend the foot or rise on the toes
- Trouble walking
- Intense pain and swelling
- Intense heel pain after an injury
- Accompanied by fever, tingling or numbness in the heel
- When to schedule a visit to the doctor
- Pain that exists even during at rest
- Pain that lasts for several weeks without improvement despite home treatment
First Aid Management of Heel Pain
Heel pain often responds to sufficient first aid and home care treatment. For mild heel pain, the following hints are general recommended:
- Rest the affected foot and avoid any activity that may put stress on the heels, such as standing for a long time, walking on hard surfaces or running.
- Place an ice pack on the affected heel for 15-20 minutes thrice daily.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin to minimize pain and inflammation. Do not give aspirin to children or individuals below 19 years of age.
- Make sure to wear shoes that are of right fit and provide support and shock absorption.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. This information given should not be used for self-diagnosis of the possible conditions. Seek medical attention when needed. To learn more about how to manage heel pain and other body pains, enrol in First Aid Courses with workplace approved training.
Heel Pain (2013). National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus. Retrieved September 8, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003181.htm