Why Isn’t My Heel Pain Getting Better?
We all experience aches and pains from time to time as we go through life. Most of the time, we deal with it for a little while, take it easy for a day or two, and then it goes away.
Pain that lingers, however—or even gradually gets worse—is another matter altogether. If you have a bad case of heel pain that you just can’t seem to shake, you may be (justifiably) concerned. What’s really going on here? Why isn’t this going away? Is there anything that can be done?
We hear you loud and clear.
The good news is that, in the end, heel pain is almost always preventable and treatable—and in the vast majority of cases, surgery is not required.
But that in and of itself is not an answer to the question asked by the title of this blog. So let’s dig a little deeper.
First Question: What Have You Tried For Your Heel Pain So Far?
In general, persistent heel pain—the kind that lingers for weeks and is strong enough to get in the way of comfortable, happy living—is not something that tends to go away on its own. You are probably going to have to do something in order to get your feet feeling better, even if that “something” is just getting off your feet for a while.
And unfortunately, the longer you wait to address the problem, the worse your pain will get—and in the end, there may be some significant and lasting consequences.
So the first question is, “What have you already tried?” If the answer is “nothing,” read through the next section and see if there’s something that could help.
If you’re starting to run out of ideas, it may be time to seek out help from the team at Sunshein Podiatry Associates. We’ll cover that in more detail a little later in this blog.
Second Question: Do You Know Why Your Heels Hurt?
No, we’re not asking you to give yourself a medical diagnosis. We don’t necessarily expect you to be able to tell plantar fasciitis from heel spurs from a stone bruise from a pinched nerve.
However, there are a handful of common underlying factors—basic stuff that don’t require any specialized medical knowledge—that are frequently involved in several different heel pain cases.
If you see a little bit of yourself in any of the following scenarios, that could give you some clues about how you might start to reverse your heel pain symptoms.
“I have an active occupation.”
Heel pain is a common problem for people who work on their feet all day. But that doesn’t mean you have to either put up with it or switch jobs! Consider trying these strategies, if you haven’t already:
- Make sure you’re wearing comfortable, supportive shoes and socks.
- Get a good pair of arch support or orthotics if necessary (more on that below).
- Place an anti-fatigue mat at your workstation.
- Take full advantage of your breaks to sit and rest your feet.
- Stretch your feet and calves regularly—a couple of minutes every hour.
- Give yourself a quick foot massage when you get home.
“I run or play sports.”
Great! We want you to be active and enjoy your hobbies and sports. However, if they are causing you pain, you may need a different approach:
- Always make sure you’re wearing comfortable sport-specific shoes that fit properly.
- Change shoes once they have worn down—for runners this tends to happen after 250-400 miles. Track your miles!
- Make smart training choices. Instead of constantly pounding the pavement with running and jumping activities every day, build some rest days into your routine and cross-train in low-impact activities like cycling, swimming, or even yoga.
Heel pain is, unfortunately, a very common problem for those who are overweight or obese. Each pound of body weight can translate into 2-3 pounds of impact force (or more) with every step you take. If you’ve been meaning to lose a few pounds but just haven’t found the motivation, we hope that the thought of pain-free heels will inspire you!
Third Question: What Can Sunshein Podiatry Associates Do For You?
Unfortunately, some cases of heel pain can’t totally be handled on your own. Give us a call if either of the following are true:
- You’ve tried the basic home care suggestions and your heel pain doesn’t seem to get better after a week or two, or even gets worse.
- Your pain is strong enough that it’s interfering with daily activities or keeping you from enjoying the things you love.
The good news is that, almost certainly, there’s a lot we can do for you. Even if you’ve been suffering for months or even years, there is an excellent chance that we can eliminate your foot pain through conservative treatments.
One of the absolute best long-term solutions is custom orthotics.
Why? Here’s the short answer: a significant percentage of heel pain causes and conditions can be traced at least partially to faulty biomechanics or foot structure. In other words, the way your feet are shaped or the way they move predispose your heels to taking more abuse than normal, just by standing and walking regularly.
When we fit you for a pair of custom orthotics, we take precise measurements of your feet via a mold. That, combined with our diagnosis of the true causes of your pain, are used to fashion a personalized set of foot supports that cushion, support, and stabilize your feet in precisely the ways that are needed. Those orthotics then take the place of the regular insoles in your shoes.
(That said, not everyone truly needs custom orthotics. If we feel the causes of your heel pain are less severe, we may recommend a pair of prefabricated arch supports instead.)
A few months ago we wrote a very detailed blog about how orthotics are especially well suited to dealing with heel pain, so definitely check that out if you’d like to learn more.
While orthotics (both prefabricated and custom) are among the most common successful treatment options for foot pain, it’s important to understand each case is different. Your situation may call for other treatments instead or in addition to them, including:
- Physical therapy
- Laser therapy
- Injection therapy
- Surgery (only in rare circumstances)
The bottom line is, whatever is causing your heel pain, we’ll figure it out and then find a way to make it finally go away. You don’t have to live in pain anymore!
To schedule an appointment with our Dayton-area office, please give us a call today at (937) 435-7477. You can also fill out our online contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you shortly thereafter.
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