Heel Pain not going away?

    Have you got heel pain that won't go away? This blog is for you!

    Let's take a look at the particularly painful condition known as plantar fasciitis (pronounced fa-she-eye-tis). It's often characterised with a strong, dull ache to your heel and mid foot under the arch that is worse on beginning to stand and walk when you've been inactive for a while, i.e. first thing in the morning on getting out of bed. Most people find they almost have to walk on tip toes until they 'loosen up' and the pain eases. Does this sound like you? Yes? Read on…

    Our feet are amazing structures. They have a tough, fibrous band of connective tissue under them called the plantar fascia that runs between the heel and the balls of the toes. This tissue is designed to support the foot muscles, prevent the arch of the foot flattening too much and to provide sensory information to the brain about the position the ankle and foot is in.

    Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia is inflamed. In Latin, the term 'itis' means inflammation, so any condition ending in itis is an inflammatory problem. If the condition isn't resolved in its early stage it can become chronic, and research shows that the collagen fibres of the connective tissue start to degenerate as the condition becomes chronic.

    Common Causes of Plantar fasciitis:

  • Calf muscle tension.
  • Lack of ankle flexibility.
  • Overuse – periods of sudden stress such as increasing intensity or duration of walking or running, or periods of prolonged standing.
  • Weak foot arches or foot shape – those with high arches or flat feet often suffer more.
  • Poor footwear – thin soles, regularly wearing high heels, wearing shoes with no support or cushioning.
  • Being overweight – the tissues are placed under higher stress.
  • Direct trauma to the foot i.e. Jumping onto a sharp stone.
  • Muscle weakness elsewhere in the body – weak gluteal muscles in your buttocks can significantly affect your posture and gait.

This list is not exhaustive, there are many other factors that need to be looked at when considering how the problem started, but the good news it, it's quite simple to treat! As well as the hands on treatment osteopathy provides for the condition, advances in technology in the therapy world have added treatment modalities such as shockwave treatment, which are non invasive to quickly help stimulate the body to heal itself. Here's a list of things you can try...

5 tips to help treat plantar fasciitis:

  • Osteopathy – treatment looks holistically at the foot up to your back and all the joints in between to make sure all structures are performing at their best. There are various helpful techniques to ease pain, and treatment often includes advice on appropriate exercise and stretching.
  • Shockwave treatment – NICE guidelines suggest ESWT, a non-invasive treatment, can significantly reduce symptoms with minimal treatments. We're lucky to offer this at Nene Valley Osteopathy.
  • Self-massage – best done sitting using a golf ball or small bottle of water, frozen. Roll the item with the affected foot to massage the fascia. Be gentle to start and increase pressure as symptoms ease with time.
  • Exercise – cut back or modify exercises whilst the problem is acute. Make sure you avoid hard surfaces if possible.
  • Wear appropriate footwear or consider insoles – give your plantar fascia a little support whilst it's struggling with the use of gel heel pads. Most running stores and pharmacies stock basic insoles or seek advice from your osteopath or podiatrist.

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