Podiatrist tip: Heel Pain

Heel pain in the Running Population

This week’s guest post is written by Michaela Barron, Senior Podiatrist at Highett Podiatry and Western Hospital with the Diabetes Foot Service.  Michaela is also a member of our morning running team!

Heel pain is one of the most common pathologies treated by podiatrists. It commonly presents in runners, who have recently increased their training regime significantly over a short period of time.  Heel pain is a generic medical term used to describe most commonly – plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis, in the running population is usually associated with a significant increase in activity without adequate training or preparation.  It accounts for about 10% of all running injuries and is the most common foot injury.  The pain is usually located in the central part of the heel on the inside of the foot, or, in the arch.  The pain is often present first thing in the morning, and gradually subsides after the first few steps.  It can be irritated after a long day on your feet or after a run.  Plantar fasciitis is frequently associated with inflammation of the long band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that connects the heel to the ball of the foot.

The inflammation and pain may be aggravated by shoes that are “old” or have lost their supportive nature and cushioning.  (Your running footwear should be changed regularly to ensure the body is getting the maximum benefits from the shoe).  The acute nature of the condition can become chronic by the chronic irritation that sometimes accompanies an athletic lifestyle.
What to do if you have symptoms – if you experience such pain as heel pain, it is important to have it correctly diagnosed by a podiatrist or health practitioner to ensure the correct and appropriate treatment regime is sought for the individual.

Other causes of heel pain can be:  Excessive rolling in of the feet when walking/running, an inflamed Bursa, a heel Spur, a neuroma (compression of a nerve), other soft tissue growths, heel bumps or pump bumps (a bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone), bruises or stress fractures to the heel bone.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis usually involves; a review of your training program, the review of everyday footwear and running footwear to ensure the correct support is being provided in the correct area for the foot, strapping with sports tape to prevent excessive motion of the plantar fascia, ultrasound therapy, in conjunction with ice-packs and heat therapy, injection therapy, heel lifts, orthotics management and, a stretching regime should be provided to give the muscles flexibility and enable them to respond to exercise stress.  If the condition is severe enough a surgical release can be an option for chronic plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis is a very curable complaint. Successful resolution involves seeking treatment sooner rather than later to ensure minimal training time is lost.

Written by Michaela Barron B.Pod M.Pod.  Senior Podiatrist at Highett Podiatry and  Western Hospital with the Diabetes Foot Service.
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