For many individuals in Greenville SC, heel pain comes on suddenly. One day you are walking around the grocery store with no problem, and then suddenly walking is painful. Heel pain can limit your ability to perform the tasks you want: walking the dog, going to social events, or just moving around your house. So why does this spontaneous heel pain happen?
The first step in getting rid of your heel pain is identifying the cause.
Here are common causes that contribute to sudden heel pain:
1. Rapid increase in activity level. Perhaps you've been lightly exercising for the last few weeks and then all of sudden you decide to take it to the next level and increase your running distance or training load. Maybe you were previously an avid exerciser but have been away from exercise for a while and now you decide to start running again. If physical activity is increased too rapidly, then you have a higher risk of developing heel pain.
2. Inappropriate footwear. Appropriate footwear varies depending on your foot’s anatomy. If you have grown up wearing shoes, which I’m sure most of us have, then our feet become adaptive to needing shoes. Thus, you need to be wearing comfortable shoes when working out. While barefoot and “the minimalist" shoe trend is popular, it's not something your foot can adapt to in just a few days. If you're trying to transition to different footwear when working out, it needs to be done slowly.
3. Standing for long periods of time. It is common for heel pain to develops in individuals who stand throughout the day for their job (i.e. nurses, construction workers, teachers, etc.). Standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time increases the pressure on the heels and can irritate the tissue. This can often cause the development of a heel callus – a thickening of the skin in order to protect against the friction forces. Heel calluses can become dry and cracked, causing stinging or burning pain in the heel, even when not walking or standing.
4. Fractures. A fractured heel is usually caused by excess force on the bones of the heel sustained during a fall, jump or accident. The pain begins quickly after the impact, and gets worse when standing or walking.
5. Gout. Gout is a type of arthritis which causes painful swelling and redness. It most frequently occurs in the joints of the big toe, but gout can also affect other parts of the foot, ankle, and heel. Gout symptoms usually appear as a red and swollen joint, and a quick development of severe pain. Symptoms usually improves within 3 to 10 days. A gout flare can be triggered by stress, alcohol consumption, illness or consuming foods high in purine.
6. Tendonitis. The Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone and can become irritated, causing pain in the heel. This is often caused by excessive exercise or wearing shoes that rub the back of the heel. This pain will usually occur at the start of an activity.
7. Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is so common that people usually can diagnose themselves without seeking a medical professional. However, an incorrect self-diagnosis can prolong healing time and may even cause additional foot problems due to improper treatment of the actual condition.
The second step is to make sure all of your joints and muscles are functioning properly in order to give your body the best chance at not having to deal with heel pain again.
If you have questions about your pain/injury/limitation, or are interested in injury prevention, then call us at (864) 881-1712. We would love to take some time to help you.
If you need a physical therapist to evaluate, treat, or prevent your pain/injury/limitation, then schedule an appointment today.