Home Remedies for Heel Pain
By Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist
Overview of Heel Pain
Heel pain can be genuinely nagging and difficult to eliminate. Heel pain affects the underside of the foot or back of the heel causing pain with normal daily activities. Any foot pain, even when not originating from the heel, can also cause limitations in daily activities.
What are the Causes of Heel Pain?
There are numerous causes of heel pain, one of the most common being Plantar Fasciitis, or the inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that runs from the base of the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot. Other classic causes of heel pain include bone spurs, obesity, stress fractures, bursitis, Achilles’ tendonitis, repetitive pounding on hard surfaces, tarsal tunnel syndrome, pronation of the foot and arthritis. Bone spurs are usually painless, but sometimes can be associated with plantar fasciitis and resulting in pain.
Plantar Fasciitis tends to present with heel pain notably with the first few steps taken after getting out of bed in the morning. The pain usually subsides after a few steps but worsens again as the day progresses. Diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis is typically done by a healthcare provider who will diagnose your condition based on symptoms and a physical exam including pressing on the bottom of the foot. An x-ray may be called for to rule out a stress fracture or bone spurs.
Achilles’ tendonitis commonly presents with pain and swelling on the back of the heel and is usually worse after weight bearing exercise. Similar to platar fasciitis, achilles’ tendonitis is painful upon getting out of bed and resolves with a few steps. The usual way to diagnose achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon) is undergoing a physical exam. This exam may include palpating the tendon, walking on the balls of your feet, and range of motion testing.
Treatment for Heel Pain
Ice, massage, and stretching are three easy home remedies for heel pain. You can massage your heel by using both thumbs and applying a massage and gentle pressure to the painful area of the foot to assist with relieving the pain. You can also combine ice and gentle massage by freezing water in a water bottle and rolling your foot over it. Perform this for about five minutes at a time.
Stretching your calf muscles will also assist with relieving heel pain because the two calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus) come together into the Achilles tendon and insert into the heel bone. You can stretch these two muscles by standing with the affected foot in the back as shown below. Perform once with the affected leg straight and one with the affected leg bent while keeping the heel on the ground. Try to hold for one minute at a time. Stretch both sides to prevent injury on the opposite side.
Another great stretch for the plantar fascia can be performed by pulling upward on the toes to provide a stretch in the bottom of the foot as shown below:
Other home remedies to help stretch the foot and calf are the Strausberg sock and night splints. These devices are worn while sleeping and stretch the calf and foot.
Whether you are suffering from heel issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity, JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!