A painful condition due to damage or contusion occurred to the structure or the soft tissues which are present under the heel is known as “Bruised Heel”. This is a most common type of sports injury.
Causes of Bruised Heel or Policeman's Heel
Bruising of the heel occurs when the foot receives sudden excessive load, constant pounding or constant walking by carrying a load. Usually calcaneus (heel bone) is guarded by fat pad and sudden impact of load tends to push the pad to the upper side of the heel. In this condition, the fat pad that protects the heel will become weak and the foot becomes less protected. Bruised heel is often seen in policemen and soldiers. This is because at the time of their marching or athletics activities, the impact of body weight will be sudden on the heel at regular intervals, which may damage the tissue structure. Hence this is also termed as Policeman's heel. This type of injury is common in sportsmen as well, as they tend to transfer sudden weight of their body onto the foot at the time of performing their sports activities.
How to Treat Bruised Heel or Policeman's Heel?
Treatment for Bruised Heel or Policeman's Heel Includes:
- Stop the activities as soon as pain occurs.
- Give as much rest as possible to the affected foot.
- If there is no choice and one should continue with activities, then make sure to protect the heel using specially manufactured shoes that have insoles acting as shock absorbers.
- Usually, people tend to ignore the uninjured foot concentrating on the injured foot. One should make sure to keep both the feet at the same height at the time of selecting shoes or replacing the used ones.
Physical Rehabilitation Program for Bruised Heel or Policeman's Heel
Earlier, people tend to ignore these types of injuries and used to prefer self-care rather than visiting an injury specialist for the treatment. Physical rehab units are increasing day by day as people are realizing that taking care of sports injuries in the initial stages would be of great help. Physical therapist or a Podiatrist will analyze the foot, its present structure; the amount of damage occurred and then formularizes a treatment plan. The following are some treatment modalities that a physical therapist would suggest:
- Asks the patient to rate the pain on a pain scale index of 0-10.
- If the pain is mild, then rest and gentle massage techniques are suggested.
- If the pain is moderate, then orthotics will be recommended. This orthotics will safeguard the fat pad.
- If the pain is severe, then initial activity modifications will be suggested. Then, taping of the heel will be done to alleviate pain symptoms. By taping heel, the soft tissues are compressed providing bone protection and relief of pain. A roll of zinc oxide tape which is usually about 2.54 centimetres wide is used to tape the heel. An anchor strip is placed horizontally surrounding the back of the heel and a support strip is placed under it. Repeat this anchor stripping over the heel top and continue this stripping altering both anchor and support strips to the point such that the heel is covered completely. By doing this, the soft tissues underneath the foot are compressed and this act as cushions and safeguard the heel/foot from further damage caused by sudden impact of load.
Recovery Time for Bruised Heel or Policeman's Heel
It is a known fact that early diagnosis will help in early recovery. In sports injuries, people tend to get along with activities even when they have pain. In this process, they will forget that they are damaging the heel structure and fat pads further in which case treatment will become difficult. So, as soon as pain occurs, one should take immediate rest and refrain from activities that could further damage the heel. Give the heel sufficient time to recover. If you cannot stop doing activities, then safeguard the heel with sufficient cushioning until the fat pads are completely healed. Follow physical therapist’s instructions and exercises to strengthen the soft tissues. If the instructions are followed carefully as advised, then the injury can be treated in short period. If you are a sportsperson, then especially manufactures shoes with insoles consist of shock absorbers are suggested to help treat bruised heel effectively