If you are trying to maintain optimal health and improve overall wellness, there are some things you simply must do:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Drink plenty of fluids – especially water.
- Get enough rest at night.
- Stay active by regularly engaging in physical activity.
But here’s the thing:
While leading a sedentary lifestyle can certainly be detrimental to your health, all physical activity comes with a certain degree of injury risk. And since we rely on our feet and ankles whenever participating in most – if not all – sports activities, lower limb injuries tend to be quite common. This is especially true when it comes to foot conditions that cause heel pain.
So does that mean you shouldn’t play your favorite sports or work out? Absolutely not!
The benefits of staying active definitely outweigh the risks of experiencing sports injuries, and the good news is most of these painful problems (including heel pain) can be successfully treated with conservative methods. Even better, prevention measures can significantly reduce injury risk in the first place.
If heel pain is slowly killing your motivation to stay on the move, come visit the Premier Podiatry & Orthopedics for the relief you need today!
But first, let’s determine the root cause of your discomfort.
What is Causing Your Heel Pain?
Heel pain can be caused by a variety of different conditions. And while some treatments may work for some conditions, they may not be appropriate for others. That’s why it’s so important to determine an accurate diagnosis.
Some of the most common conditions that cause heel pain include:
- Plantar fasciitis. An inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.
- Achilles tendinitis. An inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the tendon connecting the calf to the heel.
- Bursitis. Irritation and/or swelling of the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints and muscles.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome. Compression or pinching of the tibial nerve (located in the back on the ankle) in the tarsal tunnel.
- Haglund’s deformity. A bump or enlargement on the back of the heel bone. The Achilles tendon runs over the bump, which may cause pain or degeneration of the tendon.
Teens going through puberty and who are regularly active may also suffer from Sever’s disease, but this is usually a temporary growth-related issue. In all cases, however, finding the root cause of your discomfort will help determine the best course of action for getting your symptoms under control.
So if you are experiencing pain in your heels, you should come visit our office right away – and take some measures to prevent it from becoming worse while you wait for your appointment date.
How Can You Prevent Heel Pain in Sports?
If the mere thought of heel pain keeping you from being active makes you cringe, then preventing this type of discomfort before it even starts is the best thing you can do. You can lower your risk of sustaining an injury by using the following practices:
- Gradually increase activity. If you are just starting a new exercise program, are going to play basketball or tennis with friends, or have recently signed up for a recreational sporting league, it’s best not to jump right into the activity. Instead, start at a low level and gradually increase your efforts.
- Choose the right footwear. Make sure you have the correct shoes for the activity you perform. They should be neither too small nor too big, and should provide enough arch support and heel cushioning.
- Warm up and stretch before exercising. Always take about 5-10 minutes to do some brisk walking or light jogging before your game, practice, or workout session. After warming up, try some stretching exercises to get your body ready for action.
- Consider doing some cross-training. Instead of running six days a week, consider running every other day and using low-impact activities between them. Cycling, swimming, yoga, and even walking are all great options to reduce stress on your heels.
Of course, we also understand that sometimes injury can still happen despite putting all preventative measures to work. And when that happens, you can count on our team to help you get back in the game!
How Do We Treat Heel Pain?
The initial treatment for an injury sustained during physical activity is usually first aid. RICE therapy is the traditional form of first aid and consists of:
- It’s important to allow the heel to recover from the stress. Cease all physical activities until the pain has diminished.
- Apply ice to the area in pain for 20 minutes at a time. Use a thin towel to protect your skin.
- Compressing the injured area will help reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Keep the injured foot raised above heart level as much as possible.
The overall goal of these measures is to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and give injured tissue the opportunity to heal. Of course, you should also contact our office so we can evaluate the severity of your condition and determine whether you can benefit from any other conservative treatment options. We may recommend that you use custom orthotics, take OTC medication, start corticosteroid injection therapy, or other treatments.
You should keep in mind that while nonsurgical care proves to be rather effective in most cases, surgery may be necessary to provide the relief you need if conservative measures fail. And if that is the case, you can take comfort in knowing that advancements in technology have resulted in minimally invasive procedures that are safer, have shorter recovery times, and cause less pain than more traditional surgeries.
Our team specializes in providing a variety of minimally invasive surgeries to address various medical problems, including heel pain caused by physical activities.
Don’t Let Heel Pain Keep You Sidelined! Contact Us Today
If you would like to learn more about the sports injury services we provide at our office, or you’ve been injured and need to request an appointment, simply connect with us at (916) 961-3434 today. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you during regular office hours.