A sore heel is a very common problem of feet. The soreness persists below, behind and sometimes at the side of the heel. It can occur from overuse or injury to the heel. The pain ranges from being mild to disabling.
Causes of Sore Heels
Trauma: Injury to the heel can lead to sprain, strain or a fracture. Depending on the incident the injury can be mild to severe. The fracture would be an emergency and would require medical attention.
Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fascia connects the heel to the front of the foot. Excessive pressure on the feet damages the ligament. This leads to pain and stiffness.
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf muscle at the back of the lower leg. Due to the overuse injury of the tendon, the heel becomes painful or inflamed.
Ankylosing Spondylitis: This type of arthritis leads to inflammation of the vertebrae, and is seen affecting mostly the spine. This eventually leads to pain and disability.
Bursitis: Fluid-filled sacs about the joint are known as bursae. The tendons, skin, and muscle meet the bone here. Bursitis occurs due to an awkward landing on a hard surface or pressure from footwear. The pain occurs deep inside the heel or at the back of the heel.
Osteochondrosis: It is a degenerative or a necrotic bone disorder and affects the bone growth in children and adolescents.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: This condition occurs due to compression of a large nerve in the back of the foot.
How Long Does A Sore Heel or Heel Pain Last?
The healing time of the heel pain depends on the cause of pain and on the severity of the disease. The best thing done to make the sore heel heal faster is to give rest to the feet. Never neglect the symptoms or delay the treatment. Delayed treatment would mean sore heel lasting for a longer period.
Mostly the heel pain flare-ups last for three weeks or two. In many cases, the sore heel or heel pain lasts up to 6 weeks.
Most people recover from heel pain within a period of a month by following the conservative treatment methods. If the sore heel does not improve within two or three weeks get consulted by a doctor.
Treatment for Sore Heel
When a person develops a sore heel, he can follow these easy methods at home to get relief:
- Give rest to the heel
- Apply ice pack two times daily for 10-15 minutes
- Wear comfortable footwear
- Over the counter, pain medicine can give relief from pain
- Night splints stretch the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia and hold them in position overnight. They can be fitted to the calf and foot overnight.
Other treatment options for sore heel include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help in reducing pain and swelling associated with sore heel.
- If NSAIDs fail to work, corticosteroid injections are given to treat sore heel.
- Physical therapy includes exercises with help in stretching the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon. It also strengthens the lower leg muscle providing better stabilization of the ankle and the heel.
- Orthotics and insoles help in correcting any foot fault and support the arch during the healing process.
- If none of the treatment plan work, the cause of sore heel is corrected surgically
Above are the treatment methods, but following few of the below-mentioned prevention technique can stop the heel pain from recurring.
- Wear proper fitting, comfortable and good material footwear.
- Maintain body weight, as excess weight leads to excess pressure on feet.
- Never walk barefoot on the hard ground.
- Give rest to feet if susceptible to heel pain.
Do not delay going to the doctor if the following symptoms show up:
- Severe pain and swelling in the heel
- Fever along with pain
- Difficulty in walking
- Numbness and tingling in the heel
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Achilles Tendinitis https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/achilles-tendinitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20369020
- American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. (2021). Plantar Fasciitis https://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/conditions/ailments-of-the-heel/Pages/Plantar-Fasciitis.aspx
- Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.). Ankylosing Spondylitis https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/ankylosing-spondylitis
- Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Foot Bursitis https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17909-foot-bursitis
- University of California, San Francisco. (n.d.). Pediatric Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) of the Knee https://orthosurgery.ucsf.edu/patient-care/divisions/sports-medicine/conditions/knee/pediatric-osteochondritis-dissecans-ocd-of-the-knee/
- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. (2021). Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/tarsal-tunnel-syndrome
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2017). Heel Pain. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/heel-pain