As a podiatrist based in Galway, you’d be amazed at the number of patients who come to me with heel pain or pain in the arch of the foot and just accept it as it is. We often think that the heel is its own little entity down there, but surprisingly, it can get itself in a whole lot of bother due to seemingly unrelated parts of the body.
Plantar fasciitis (fasciopathy) is the most common type of heel pain accounting for 80% of cases. Fasciitis means to have an inflammation of some tissue in your foot, but studies have shown that it’s not so much inflammation as much as it is degenerative/wear and tear process with some scarring of the tissue in long term cases. This is why we are now trying to refer to the condition as plantar fasciopathy (Plantar fascia pain)
The surprising causes of heel pain
The majority of the time heel pain is caused by overly tight calf muscles – or tight gastrocnemius and soleus muscles if you want to get really technical. Instead of accepting heel pain and superficially treating it, such as rolling a cold bottle under the heel or arch, it’s always best to address the root cause. I’ve taken a more proactive approach that targets the top offenders of your discomfort.
As I previously mentioned, tight calf muscles are the prime perpetrators, pulling at the heel and causing the hallmark ache you feel while walking. This can be caused by a number of things, which is why a full biomechanics assessment should be carried out before any treatment plan is put in place. I set my patients a customized exercise and stretching program for this through physiApp® which has details and videos showing you how to do the exercises the right way and tracking your progression through them, making your recovery easier to follow. Combined with acupuncture treatments which loosen up the muscles you’ll be well on your way to recovery.
Usually, patients see great results with regular exercises and acupuncture sessions, which treats the primary cause of the heel pain, and because of this, they do not find themselves seeking treatment over long periods of time and have the knowledge to treat it themselves if it should ever return. Of course, there are some people who do not respond as effectively to the treatment plan above. Some people need orthotics, but I try and avoid this while I work through a list of exercises to see what works best for the patient.
Heel pain is a common occurrence, and many of us will suffer from at least one bout of it in our lives. Fear not, because a proactive approach is key to ensure the best outcome and treatment. If you’re suffering from heel pain, don’t suffer in silence. Get in touch so we can build a treatment plan tailored just for you that addresses the root cause of the issue.
For more information and regular updates visit my Instagram and Facebook.