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Heel Pain

With the transition to summer footwear and activities, a common issue that people suffer from is heel pain. 

Frequently heel pain is quickly diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. Although plantar fasciitis is an established term to describe the most common form of heel pain, there are many other causes for heel pain that should be considered.  

 A comprehensive physiotherapy assessment can help identify the source and most appropriate treatment for the following categories of heel pain.

Plantar fascia irritation:  The strong, tough fascial tissue in the bottom of the foot can become irritated where it inserts into the heel. The classic sign of this is pain during the first few steps in the morning.

Calcaneal bruising or stress fractures: The calcaneus or bone of the heel can become ‘bruised’  after repeated impact or ‘stress fractured’ after traumatic landing on the heel.

Pinched nerve: Nerves around the heel and foot can become pinched causing them to be sensitized resulting in pain.

Referred Pain: Heel pain can be felt as a referred pain from a source away from the foot. For example back pain can result in heel pain.

Systemic conditions: Heel pain can be felt as a symptom of a whole body issue unrelated to the foot.  For example some rheumatoid arthritic conditions can be the source of heel pain.

Following a physiotherapy assessement and proper identification of the source and contributing factors of a person’s heel pain a number of intervetions may be utilized.

Therapeutic Mobilizations: Therapist directed stretches and mobilizations of stiff joints and tight tissues can restore proper mobility to the foot and ankle.

Exercises: Prescription of effective exercises to correct joint, muscle and neural dysfunctions will restore function and reduce pain.

Modalities:  A variety of treatment modalites (ie. acupuncture and shockwave) may be considered if appropriate.

Education: Proper advice on footwear, orthodics and activity modifications are important components for maximal recovery.

Physiotherapy is a valuable tool in treatment and resolution of  heel pain. Proper identification of the source of pain will  help in determining the proper course of treatment. 

If you are experiencing heel pain book your appointment today.

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