Why Does My Heel Hurt?

What is Plantar Fasciitis:

Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition which causes heel and arch pain in the feet. The Plantar fascia is a thick weblike ligament that connects the rear foot to the forefoot. It acts as a shock absorber and provides support to the foot arch when walking. Too much pressure on your feet or biomechanical foot anomalies can damage or tear the ligaments under the foot. The insertion point of the plantar fascia under the heel can become inflamed and this inflammation can lead to pain and stiffness in the foot.

The main symptoms usually associated with plantar fasciitis are pain under the heel and sometimes along the arch of the foot. It most commonly affects one foot however, both feet can be affected. Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis is a condition which can return multiple times. Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning or following periods of rest or inactivity, the pain will gradually reduce when moving and active.

Risk Factors:

  • Biomechanical foot problems can cause plantar fasciitis as a high arched or flat footed posture can put increased strain on the ligaments of the foot. This can then results in increased strain at the heel insertion point leading to inflammation.
  • Obesity can lead to increased pressure along the plantar ligaments resulting in tears of damage to the ligaments in the feet.
  • High activities levels such as long distance running of working in an occupation with prolonged periods on your feet can lead to increased demand on the plantar fascia and increased pressure under the heel.

Orthotic Treatments:

Silicone or Gel Heel Cups:

If the pain is simply located under the heel from prolonged periods on the feet a silicone heel cup can provide increased cushioning at the insertion point under the heel, provide increased shock absorption under the heel and reduce pain.

Click here for a Technogel heel pad with soft spot

Click here for a silicone heel cup

Stock Insoles:

Where the plantar fascia pain can be linked to a flat footed or simple biomechanical posture issue and there are no other issues evident in the foot biomechanics a stock insole can be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. These insoles lift and support the medial arch to reduce the strain along the plantar fascia and can reduce the stain at the plantar fascia insertion point.

Bespoke insoles:

If there are more complex biomechanical issues present such as significant flat foot, high arch, rear foot alignment issues, or where stock insoles have not helped previously, a bespoke insole would be advised. These insoles are able to contour closely into the arch and can have the addition of heel wedges and padded heels for increased alignment of the plantar fascia and offloading of the inflamed insertion points. These insoles would be advised for people who have high activity of where plantar fasciitis has retuned multiple times.

Night Splints:

Plantar fasciitis has been linked to tightness in the large musculature in the calf which can then affect foot posture and plantar fascia stress. In these instances a night splint would be recommended. These splints are designed to apply a constant stretch to the calf muscles and to the plantar fascia ligament which can reduce the stiffness and pain associated with plantar fasciitis. These devices often work well in conjunction with insole wear.

Click here for the element stretch up sock

Click here for a night splint

Immobilising Boots/ Aircast Walkers.

These are usually only recommended for severe and acute plantar fasciitis symptoms and are not designed as a long term treatment option, usually up to 6 weeks. These boots are designed to hold to foot in a fixed position and completely immobilise the foot and ankle to reduce repetitive strain along the plantar fascia. Periods of immobilisation in a boot would usually be followed by the fitting of a well contoured bespoke insole.

Click here for immobilising boots/ aircast walkers

If you would like any further information on our any of our braces then you can call us to speak with one of our clinicians on 07751 370949, visit our website at www.totalbodyorthotics.com. Our experienced clinicians are able to offer a full lower limb biomechanical assessment and provide treatment advice on the best orthotic device to suit your individual needs, our new clinic is based in Minworth, Birmingham B76 1DH

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