The heel pain is one of the issues that most discomfort due to an increasingly large group of people, especially when the pain is incapacitating, causing difficulty walking, causing even appearance of frustration and depression in the most serious cases.

Heel pain is generally associated with biomechanical disorders (improper way of walking) that directly affects the heel bone and the supporting structures associated with it, (tendons) due to increased tension, which translates into inflammation and pain .

When long walks or uncomfortable shoes are used, there may be a wound in the plantar region, which can also cause pain.

Causes of heel pain

This pain is the direct expression of the condition of the heel bone and the tendons that attach to it, as this bone is the largest in the foot, it is the main bone support of the foot, and its condition may be due to causes mechanical or external causes, secondary to systemic diseases, affecting the musculoskeletal system; which we will detail below:

1. Biomechanical causes

This involves changes in the shape of the foot, directly related to gait, which in most cases are of congenital origin or the result of deformities in the extremities acquired throughout life, such as flat feet, varismus or valgismus. that affects the mechanical stability of the lower extremities, causing a constant inflammation of the plantar region.  

2. Plantar fasciitis

The plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the fascia foot (fibrous web supports and maintains the plantar arch) generally repeated trauma, standing for prolonged periods overweight, rams, or prolonged physical activity, is one of the most frequent causes of heel pain that worsens in the morning when you start walking.

3. Calcaneal spur

This is a kind of neocalcification that forms in the heel bone, as a compensatory mechanism for supporting excess weight and pressure in the plantar region.

It is frequent in people over 40 years of age who are obese and who use appropriate footwear, with congenital or acquired foot deformities, it is directly associated with the appearance of plantar fasciitis.

4. Heel bursitis

The retrocalcaneal bursa is a supportive tissue in the form of a small bag that is located between the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, when it becomes inflamed, localized pain is generated in the back of the heel , which is exacerbated with movements of the foot.

It can appear in athletes due to traumatic injuries in the area.

5. Trauma to the heel

Any traumatic injury in the plantar region can generate pain in the heel, either from a direct blow, poor fall movement after a jump, however, it is very likely that an injury will occur in the area.

6. Arthritis

Our feet provide support and shock absorption for our body weight throughout life. But over time, and depending on many factors, such as activity levels and weight, this pressure can cause arthritic wear and tear, for example in diseases such as osteoarthritis  and inflammatory conditions such as  ankylosing spondylitis .

How to relieve heel pain naturally

Much of the pain in the heel, whether it is pain in the back of the heel or pain that radiates to the bottom of the foot, needs a comprehensive, multi-stage approach to properly treat it.

Initially, rest is recommended, along with over-the- counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. After this initial period of rest, it is important to take active steps to reduce pain , strengthen the foot overall, and prevent further damage.

Relieving heel pain can be done through some natural or traditional measures, including:

  • Home remedies that can help reduce inflammation.
  • Heel exercises.
  • Medicines prescribed by a specialist.
  • Therapy with a physiotherapist to rehabilitate the foot.
  • Interventional procedures, such as radiofrequency ablation or injections.
  • Surgery for severe cases.

Natural solutions:

1. Local cold

Apply a cold compress or a piece of ice covered with a compress on the heel, in periods of 30-40 minutes, which generates an increase in blood flow, thus helping local pro-inflammatory factors can be “swept away” achieving improvement of pain in the heels .

2. Arnica tincture

This substance is traditionally used to help in acute and chronic inflammatory processes, for its anti-inflammatory benefits. In most cases it is applied with warm compresses.

3. Adopting a balanced diet

Avoid the consumption of foods that can increase uric acid levels in the joints, especially in patients with acute gouty arthritis disease, in this way painful crises are reduced

5. Tennis ball massage

Place your heel on the ground and a tennis ball under the arch of your foot. Slowly bring your weight forward onto the tennis ball. Hold for 30 seconds. Try to prevent your fingers from grabbing the ball and move it towards your heel. The idea is to move our foot on the ball so that the same action of the movement can massage our foot.

6. Soak your feet in Epsom salts

You can use Epsom salts or arnica salts in high concentration to prepare a warm bath with which you can soak your feet, this home remedy is very effective in relieving pain in the heel.

Other recommendations

They include avoiding overweight, wearing comfortable shoes taking into account the characteristics of each person’s foot, shoes and insoles for support and cushioning are recommended, avoiding prolonged standing, thus achieving improvement in heel pain.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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