|A pain in the heel!
Policeman’s heel or plantar fasciitis are the two most common names used for pain located in the heel. There are however several different causes of this condition that affects many of us through our life time. The most common is inflammation and subsequent wearing of the plantar fascia (a band of strong soft tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes) attachment to the heel bone, initially this is referred to as plantar fasciitis but with subsequent degeneration becomes plantar fasciosis. The second most common cause is inflammation of the bursa that covers the heel. This small sac of fluid can become swollen and painful and mimic plantar fasciitis. Other causes of heel pain include nerve irritation, osteoarthritis of the above ankle joints, severs disease and stress fractures. Ian Griffiths (Podiatrist) and Sharon Mumford (Physiotherapist) recently treated a lady called June whom had developed a sudden onset of heel pain after wearing a new pair of shoes whilst out walking. After careful examination Sharon identified the plantar fascia attachment as the source of her pain. At her first few sessions Sharon used ultrasound and acupuncture to settle the pain and supported the heel with tape to allow the inflammation to settle. Once things had started to improve June saw Ian Griffiths who diagnosed “excessive rolling in” (pronation) of June’s ankle and foot which in turn was overloading the plantar fascia. For this Ian advised June wear a pair of running style trainers for several weeks with an orthotic insole inside to reduce the “ankle rolling in” and decrease the forces acting on the plantar fascia at the heel. Mean while Sharon prescribed some exercises to improve June’s ankle and foot muscles as well as some core stability drills to improve hip control (which was deemed to be contributing to the excessive rolling in at the ankle). Within 2 months June was feeling 90% better and was able to go shopping and walk her dog without experiencing the severe pain that she had initially. She was discharged from the clinic but was advised to continue to wear the orthotics and trainers for dog walking and continue the home exercises for the next 2 months.
Tips to beat heel pain
1. If you are a runner or thinking of taking up running, seek professional advice before buying footwear.
2. Avoid shoes with squared off heels these can increase loading through the foot.
3. Don’t roll a bottle of frozen ice under your foot – it doesn’t work, use an ice pack for 20 minutes instead.
4. Don’t try and stretch the sole of your foot it will make things worse.
5. Do see a health professional fast as early treatment can prevent things becoming long term.
For advice on any foot condition please call 01277 246 400 oror visit the website.