I Have Heel Pain. What Can I Do About It?
Heel pain is exceedingly common. Millions of Americans deal with it regularly. By some estimates, as many as 1 in 4 of us will suffer from at least one episode in our lives that is strong enough to significantly impact daily activities.
If you are going through tough heel pain right now, you don’t need us to tell you how frustrating it can be. If you’re reading this blog post, you’re no doubt looking for a lasting solution.
That is already a great first step! Many people don’t even get that far, and assume heel pain is just a normal part of growing older or being active.
The good news is that heel pain is always treatable—sometimes even at home. There is a lot you can do to improve your situation, and we are here to help.
Tackling Heel Pain at Home
If your heel pain developed recently or is still relatively mild in severity, attempting to treat it at home is the natural first step. If home care strategies relieve your discomfort—and the pain doesn’t continue to recur—there is no need for further treatment.
Here are a few key tips to try out:
- Start RICE therapy. Rest your heels from strenuous activity, and use ice, compression, and elevation as necessary for a few days to ease pain and swelling.
- Give yourself a foot massage to relieve pain and tension.
- Stretch your feet, ankles, Achilles tendons, and calves regularly.
- Make sure you have supportive shoes that fit your feet well. Replace worn out shoes in a timely manner.
- If you spend most of your time at home, consider keeping your shoes on while indoors so you get that support as you go about your daily activities.
We cover several of these tips in greater detail, including specific stretches to try, in a previous blog post. You can read it by clicking here.
What to Do When Home Care Doesn’t Work
Home care can be very helpful, but it will not work for everyone.
That does not mean your heel pain cannot be treated. It just means you may need a professional evaluation to determine the specific causes of your heel pain and develop a treatment protocol that will be successful.
In other words, do not be discouraged! Reach out to our office if your heel pain:
- Lasts longer than a few days to a week, despite your attempts to manage it at home;
- Is getting worse; or
- Is severe enough to keep you from going about your day comfortably
When you come to our office, we will give you a thorough physical evaluation, and talk with you about how your symptoms are affecting your life. You may be relieved to hear that the vast majority of heel pain can be treated successfully within 2-3 months from this initial appointment, most often using non-surgical techniques. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Personalizing a Treatment Plan to Suit Your Needs
So, what does professional treatment look like? That depends on the root causes and severity of your heel pain.
We will often recommend a cortisone shot, which is a highly effective method of quickly reducing the pain and inflammation to start the healing process. You will usually notice significant relief within 48 hours of the injection and lasting several weeks to several months.
What a shot won’t do, however, is fix the underlying problem. So, we will also put together a longer-term treatment plan, which may consist of things like:
- Specific stretches and exercises
- Heat therapy
- Footwear modifications
- Activity modifications
Quite frequently, medical-grade inserts or, if necessary, custom orthotics will also be part of the treatment plan. These inserts slide into your shoes to provide your feet with more customized cushioning and support based on your individual needs.
Because the right pair of supports can actually stabilize your feet and improve your biomechanics, they are an excellent long-term solution for many patients. Wearing them every day will not only help alleviate any existing discomfort, but can also prevent future episodes of heel pain from occurring.
It is important to keep in mind, though, that it must be the right pair of medical-grade inserts or custom orthotics. We do not recommend you buy cheap insoles from a pharmacy, as these will often provide little if any relief. We will fit you for a high-quality set based on your specific needs.
The Worst Thing You Can Do Is Doing Nothing at All
If there is one takeaway we want you to get from this blog post, it is that heel pain is treatable, and should be treated! Do not accept it as an inevitable part of your life, and if you do not know how to treat it yourself (or if your attempts at home care are unsuccessful) you should never hesitate to seek expert counsel.
Dr. Thomas Bobrowski is a foot and ankle expert with extensive experience treating heel pain conditions of all kinds for more than 20 years. He and his team at InStride Crystal Coast Podiatry are here to ensure you can move beyond your pain and go back to enjoying your favorite activities without discomfort.
Request an appointment at our New Bern office today by calling (252) 638-4700, or connecting with us online.