Foot Notes Blog


April 2011

Is your heel pain making you miserable?

Apr 10, 2011 9:25 PM
Peter Guy

The alarm clock radio has just rang and your day is about to begin. You dread your first step out of bed because it is going to be painful but you have perfected a method to keep as much weight off of your painful heel.  You realize the pain will get a little better as the day goes on but you also know that when you get home and sit down but have to get up again its going to be painful!  Does this sound familiar?
If you are reading my blog,  you may already know that you may have plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome.  Heel pain occurs because the plantar fascia pulls away from its attachment under the heel bone.  This pulling away occurs with every step you take while walking.  The plantar fascia has role in keeping your foot stable as you lift you heel off the ground while walking. The plantar fascia helps to resist your foot from bending.
To give you an idea of what I am describing, I want you to take your hand and place it with your palm down on top of a table.  Slowly lift the palm of your hand off the table.  The more you lift your palm, the more you will pivot on the tips of your fingers.  Now bend you hand, you will feel a tightening in the palm of your hand.  You have just stretched your palmar fascia.  When you bend your hand this is simulating what your foot is doing when you lift your heel off the ground and the weight is on your forefoot.  This is the time you cause damage to your heel causing pain.
This is a common problem for anyone in their 40" and 50's. There can be many factors which can lead to the "perfect storm" of heel pain.  Over the years, we all gain a little weight,  we don't exercise enough, we work on concrete floors covered with tile or carpet and we continue to use old and worn out footwear.  Sometimes heel pain can occur because we start a new activity that places a lot of bending stresses on the foot that can lead to a painful heel.
In Canada during the springtime we all want to be outside after a long winter.   Warmer weather brings more activity which unfortunately can lead to heel pain.  During this time of the year, we recieve many calls concerning heel pain. There can be many causes of heel pain, but the bottom line is you want  your heel pain to go away.
Your family and friends will most likely have advice on out to get rid of your heel pain, sometimes their advice is good and sometimes it is bad.  If your heel pain has lasted for more than 2 weeks and the intensity of the pain is getting worse you should immediately  seek professional help from a chiropodist/podiatrist or your family doctor.  The longer your heel pain is left untreated, the greater the chance it can become chronic.  The longer you have heel pain the more likely  you will start to change the way you walk leading other problems.  In the worse case scenario, you can develop heel pain in the other heel because you have compensated by putting more weigh on the non painful heel.  Another compensation is developing  a tight calf muscle because you don't want to put any weight on your painful heel.
I routinely see patients with heel pain who have waited longer than 4 to 6 months before they seek treatment or they have followed bad advice.  If you have chronic heel pain it may require a longer duration of  time and a more comprehensive approach to resolve your heel pain.   If your heel pain is not chronic there is usually an easy solution for your heel pain. 
If you have heel pain do not let it become chronic and get treatment at the earliest possible date.



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