Do you suffer from shooting pain in the bottom of your heel or the arch of your foot? If so, consult a foot specialist as you might be experiencing what is medically known as plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis and the resulting severe heel and arch pain are caused by damage to the ligaments of your heel. The other causes of heel pain may include plantar fibroma. This pain comes in the form of a small knot or nodule on the arches of your feet.
Additionally, these medical conditions can cause foot and ankle pain. The use of supportive shoes, orthotic shoe inserts, anti-inflammatory medications, or physical therapy can help alleviate this pain in the arch and heel of your foot. Get a free foot pain assessment for Calgary orthotics.
Heel pain due to Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis is the medical term given to the pain arising at the bottom of your heel. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia in the bottom of your foot.
The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that stretches from the base of the foot or heel to the toes of your foot. When these plantar fascia ligaments are injured due to flat feet or overpronation, severe foot pain occurs causing plantar fasciitis.
Overpronation means that the foot rolls inward while walking. This causes the foot to flatten and stretches the heel, increasing the tension and strain on the heel which may result in severe pain in the arch and heel.
The plantar fasciitis pain can be dull or sharp and can arise in one foot or both feet. The pain is often strongest in the morning or after periods or rest. It can start as a burning sensation on the heel and increase gradually with time.
This heel pain condition is not caused by heel spurs or bone spurs unlike what some people tend to believe. It is a result of the wear and tear of the ligaments or the plantar fascia tissue of the arch and heel.
Overweight people, athletes (especially long-distance runners), and industrial workers who stand all day have a high risk of developing chronic plantar fasciitis pain.
People with structural foot issues like flat feet or high arches also have an increased risk of heel and arch pain due to this condition. Tight achilles tendons or Achilles Tendonitis can also cause heel pain to a great extent.
The use of custom orthotics or orthotic shoe insoles can help in improving this condition. Other non-surgical treatment methods include the use of over-the-counter arch supports, orthopedic footwear, massagers (or just using a tennis ball to massage the bottom of your foot), and physiotherapy.
Ways to manage heel and arch pain
During periods of rest the plantar fascia can tighten up, which means that as soon as you start walking again your plantar fascia gets micro-tears which causes significant pain. This can be prevented through stretching and massage. If you have plantar fasciitis, every morning before you even get out of bed, gently stretch and massage the bottoms of your feet to increase blood flow and “wake up” your feet.
Tightness in the calves can also lead to plantar fasciitis or cause worse heel pain. Stretch your calf muscles daily to loosen those muscles and relieve tension on your plantar fascia. This can be a great way to prevent plantar fasciitis to begin with.
Ice your feet
Heel and arch pain arise due to inflammation of the heel muscles. Applying an ice pack can reduce swelling by constricting the blood vessels.
If you do not have an ice pack, use a ziploc bag packed with ice and wrapped in a soft towel, or soak your feet in an ice bath.
While using a cold pack or an ice bag, be sure to ice your feet for at least 15-20 minutes and repeat this at least three times a day. For an ice bath do not soak your feet beyond ten minutes at a time.
Heat therapy is good for heel pain as it loosens up the ligaments and increases blood flow. This helps to stretch the heel muscles and makes massaging easier.
But, sometimes heat might increase the swelling as it causes the blood vessels to expand. It may also increase the pain as it improves blood circulation preventing numbness. This is why heat therapy is used alternately along with cold therapy to minimize heel pain.
This form of alternating heat and cold application is called contrast therapy and is highly effective for arch and heel pain.
In contrast therapy, we take 2 bathtubs and fill one with ice and the other with hot water. Now, submerge your feet in the ice tub for 2 min. Immediately, shift to the warm water tub and dip your feet there for 30 seconds. Continue to do this for at least 15 minutes by switching between hot and cold tubs. This should give you immense relief from your heel pain.
Invest in good therapeutic footwear
For all your activities like working, running or walking, avoid flip-flops or high heels and get all-around foot protection. Buy a good pair of athletic shoes for walking and work if you are on your feet all day. The shoes you choose should have extra cushioning to distribute pressure and body weight evenly and provide uniform arch support for your feet. Make sure your feet are properly sized and fitted for any therapeutic footwear.
People can opt for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as pain relievers but this is not a treatment. Another non-surgical treatment method is extracorporeal shockwave therapy, but easier and more efficient than this is the use of custom foot orthotics and/or orthopedic footwear. Consult a Canadian certified Pedorthist in Calgary for your best treatment options.
Foot health is vital for your overall physical health and quality of life. Consult a good foot doctor or health care provider or walk into a Shoe Solutions store conveniently located in Lethbridge and Calgary for a physical examination. Invest in good orthotic footwear to cure your achy feet. No more chronic pain, it’s healing time!