Heel of foot pain in the morning 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.
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. Please watch this video about Plantar Fasciitis from Dr. Turner Vosseller. 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 in the heel are usually painless, but sometimes can be associated with plantar fasciitis and resulting in pain. If you want to learn more about plantar fasciitis remedies, click here.
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. Achilles’ tendonitis commonly presents with pain and swelling on the back of the heel and is usually worse after weight-bearing exercise. Achilles’ tendonitis, like plantar fasciitis, is painful upon getting out of bed and resolves with a few steps.
Plantar Fasciitis will typically be diagnosed 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 (inflammation of the Achilles tendon) is usually diagnosed by a physical exam also. This exam may include palpating the tendon, walking on the balls of your feet, and range of motion testing. Now let's talk about home remedies 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. Rest and activity modification are also helpful home remedies. Night splints at home, while you sleep, can also help with heel pain. Some people also have had success using Strassburg Socks at home while they sleep. The RICE protocol is important for the healing process. Rest, ice, compression with socks and elevation above your heart.
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 standing, seated with a towel, or on an incline board. 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. A night splint worn while you are sleeping can also be very helpful.
Stretching 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. This is a great home remedy for heel pain. Modalities such as ice, heat, and a medical laser can also give you some relief from your pain.
Stretching the calf as shown in home remedies for heel pain daily and wearing properly fitted shoes will help to prevent heel pain. Your shoes should have plenty of support and running shoes should be replaced approximately every 300-500 miles. See a professional for more exercises and to have your shoes fit properly. If the pain does not go away see an orthopedic physician or physical therapist. Sometimes an orthotic in your shoes is needed, especially if you have a heel spur. JOI Rehab has affordable options for orthotics for your shoes. If you have a heel spur, they can make a cut out in the orthotic for your heel spur.
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JOI has Board Certified Foot and Ankle Orthopedic Specialists at the Beach, South, and San Marco. If you have any further questions about heel pain or would like to book an appointment or a telemedicine visit with one of our JOI Orthopaedic Foot Specialists you may call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click BOOK APPOINTMENT below.