Heel Pain

What is it?
Your heel is anatomically known as the calcaneus. Pain in the heel can be from a variety of sources. Heel spurs also known as traction spurs can cause pain, degeneration of the fat pad beneath your heel can result in pain, heel pain can be confused with plantar fasciitis and finally heel pain can result from a trapped medial plantar nerve which can cause burning pain into the heel.

How did I get it?
There are two anatomical factors that contribute to the development of heel pain. Flat, hypermobile feet cause excessive stretching and pulling on the ligaments causing micro tears and pain. High arched, rigid feet do not flex well and do not dissipate shock. This causes contusions to the fat pad resulting in bruising, tearing and pain.

How is it treated?
There are many ways that heel pain can be treated. Some are more risky and less effective than others.

Custom Orthotics: A properly made foot orthotic can go a long way in stabilizing your heel and supporting the fat pad. The right custom-made, biomechanical orthotic can address the underlying cause of your heel pain. Abnormal joint position, overpronation or foot rigidity can be addressed and the biomechanics normalized. San Diego Running Institute orthotics is custom molded to your foot and designed with your specific body weight and activity in mind. The restoration of correct mechanical function takes the abnormal stress off your heel allowing it to heal.

Stretching: Often we are told by runners that they have been stretching in an attempt to help heel pain. If you are suffering from fat pad damage or an entrapped medial plantar nerve than stretching will of little help. However, if you have heel spurs then stretching may be effective. The Strassburg sock is a tool that can often help heel pain by providing gentle stretching while you are sitting at your computer or at night while you sleep.

Rest: For many rest is not a realistic option, or you have already rested with no relief. Some sufferers report they rested weeks to years and even now can not walk without pain. Some undergo painfully expensive surgery and the pain still persists.

Drugs/Anti-inflammatories: Drugs such as Ibuprofen are anti-inflammatory agents not healing agents. They actually impair the healing process and many times allow the one to injure themselves further. Studies have proven that these medications are harmful to your body, can cause ulcers and strain your liver.

Ice: Ice is often recommended and is another example of a non-healing modality. A runner often reports that they have been icing their foot after running. Consider this analogy. If you bang your head against a wall and did not plan on doing it again then it would make sense to place ice on your injured head. However, if your intent was to continually bang your head every day then icing would be of no use. Instead you might try to place padding between your head and the wall. With running it’s the same. If you ice your foot so that you can run on it again, thus re-opening the wound, ice makes no sense. Addressing the underlying biomechanical cause does.

Steroid Injections: Steroid injections are extremely painful and most doctors are reluctant to inject the heel anyway. Steroid injections have also been shown to increase the chance of rupture to the plantar fascia and cause further degeneration to the fat pad.

How long will it take to heal?
This depends on how long you have been suffering from heel pain and its underlying cause. By correcting the cause of the injury with San Diego Running Institute orthotics and following the treatment regimen provided by Dr. Runco you can expect 50-75% relief usually within two weeks. Ask your San Diego Running Institute expert about how to get your heel pain fixed today.

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