Heel pain can occur in a multitude of ways, from stepping on a rock and having sores on the soles, to straining your muscles from a run. Fortunately, there are many remedies available to treat foot and heel pain.
What causes pain under the heel?
There are several causes of heel pain, here are a few of the common ones:
- Abnormal gait, or walking style, such as rolling on the heel
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Standing, running or jumping on hard surfaces
- Heel injury, such as stress fractures
- Neuroma (nerve enlargement)
- Certain disorders, including diabetes and arthritis.
What kind of doctor should I see for heel pain?
Both podiatrists and orthopedists are qualified health specialists and are required to complete a rigorous period of schooling, with four years of undergraduate study before beginning their medical training. However, podiatrists are not medical doctors. They will instead receive four years of education at a podiatric medical school before performing another three or four years of residency training. The sphere of the treatment they provide is limited only to the ankle and foot areas. Podiatrists often treat ingrown toenails, calluses, fallen arches, heel spurs and problems related to abuse or injury. They may employ surgical methods and may also treat such underlying health issues as diabetes, provided they are related to the foot or ankle problem.
An orthopedist, or orthopedic surgeon, is a medical doctor. After their graduation from an accredited medical school, orthopedists will usually go through about five years of residency training and may also complete a fellowship dedicated to treating specific disorders. In addition to dealing with some of the same issues as podiatrists, orthopedists can treat issues of the foot and ankle including Hammer Toes, Bunions, and Achilles Tendinitis. In addition, orthopedists have the authority to treat the entire body which can be beneficial in cases where foot and ankle problems originate from other areas of the body, such as the hip. Specific to problems in the extremities, orthopedists may turn their attention to the underlying bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons.
How do I get rid of the pain in my feet?
Foot pain can manifest in many different ways. Here are a few different exercises that can help reduce pain in the feet:
- Toe Spread and Press – Plantar fasciitis is a condition common in runners that involves pain and inflammation of the tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot. To treat this condition, perform the exercise below, called toe spread and press. Here is a quick description of how to do the exercise:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your toes and spread them as far apart as possible. Hold this until you feel slightly fatigued. Next, spread your toes out on the ground then press the ball of your big toe down without lifting any part of your foot lift. Perform ten reps three times per week.
- Write the Alphabet – To increase ankle and big toe mobility, a recommended exercise is writing the alphabet with your big toe. This exercise will combat muscle tightness and tension in the tendon on the top of the foot. This can result from tight shoelaces and running shoes that artificially flex the toes. How to do the write the alphabet exercise:
- Sit or stand comfortably. Lift the foot a few inches and write the alphabet in the air with your big toe, beginning with uppercase letters. Exaggerate downward strokes. Once you reach the end of the alphabet, write lowercase letters. Repeat with the other foot. Perform periodically through the day.
- Band Ankle Strengthening – To prevent ankle injuries, you have to strengthen the ankle joint and increase range of motion. Banded ankle strengthening accomplishes both tasks, so when you inevitably slip or get caught off-balance during a run, your ankle will be stable enough to handle the impact. Here is a description of the exercise:
- Straighten your leg to create tension. Keep your left foot straight and pivot it side to side. Maintain tension in the band throughout the movement. When your foot begins to fatigue, switch feet. Perform the exercise throughout the day.