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What is Heel Pain?

Heel pain is a very common form of foot pain, mainly because the heel bone (calcaneus) is the largest bone in the foot. The heel is also the first part of the foot to contact the ground during walking, meaning it absorbs the most pressure. In most cases, heel pain is not the result of any single injury – like a fall or twist – but rather the result of repetitive or excessive heel pounding.

What Causes Heel Pain?

Heel pain is often the result of too much stress or pressure on the ligaments that support the foot. There are two structures located on the sole of the foot that are most often associated with heel pain: the plantar fascia ligament and the flexor digitorum brevis muscle. 

Pain can also be the result of repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. The same physical activities that cause conditions like plantar fasciitis and heel spurs contribute to heel pain. Other significant factors that contribute to the development of heel pain include:

  • Mechanical deficiencies that cause gait abnormalities
  • Tight calf muscles that limit ankle flexibility
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poor shoe choice
  • Activities that demand extended time on your feet

Other common causes of heel pain include the following conditions:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Heel Spurs
  • Excessive Pronation
  • Achilles Tendinitis

How is Heel Pain Treated?

There are various treatment methods available to relieve heel pain. Most people will start with home remedies like ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation. But when heel pain persists for more than a month or two, and home remedies are no longer sufficient, you should contact your podiatrist. He or she will likely recommend one or more of the the following non-invasive treatments:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Various stretching exercises
  • Shoe replacement
  • Padding
  • Physical therapy

Most cases of heel pain can be treated with conservative methods, but anti-inflammatory medications or injections may also be recommended. These medications not only reduce pain, but inflammation too.

Custom Orthotics for Heel Pain

Simply put, orthotic devices are pads that are placed into a pair of shoes to reduce and eliminate heel pain. However, many heel pain suffers resort to over-the-counter orthotics that are not designed to treat the cause of heel pain. That’s because non-custom orthotics are simply designed to add cushioning for worn out shoes, they do not have specific design features that address the root cause of heel pain.  

The mechanical properties of custom foot orthotics help to ensure the correct positioning of the bones in the feet, ankles, and knees. The muscles and ligaments leading up to the hips and holding the leg bones in place are prevented from stretching over time, which can lead to further injury and aggravation. Custom orthotics can also reduce muscular fatigue and may help to promote more efficient muscle performance.

Contact our office today to find if custom orthotics can reduce your heel pain!