Relieving Foot & Heel Pain While Walking: An Essential Guide

Taking Steps to Ease Foot and Heel Pain While Walking: An Overview

You are headed out for your morning walk when you suddenly experience an ache in your heel or foot! This can feel like a disappointing start to the day. Several underlying conditions or injuries can cause heel or foot pain. To understand such symptoms better, it is essential to recognize various causes. 

Common causes of foot and heel pain

Stiffness, inflammation, and pain in the heel and foot can be linked to various injuries. Experiencing these symptoms once in a while is normal. However, constant pain that interferes with daily functioning signifies the need to understand underlying conditions. 

Plantar Fasciitis

The ligament that connects the heel to the underside of the foot is known as the plantar fascia. Its main role is to maintain the position of the joints and bones—inflammation or damage to the ligament results in this condition. Further, repetitive movements and excessive pressure on the arch of your foot can exacerbate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. 

Achilles tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is a fibrous tissue connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. Overexertion or a sudden increase in frequency and intensity of exercise can lead to inflammation, tenderness, and pain in this region. You may experience consistent pain above your heel or in the back of your ankle as a result of Achilles tendonitis. 

Haglund’s deformity

The enlargement of a bony section of the heel where the Achilles tendon is located results in Haglund’s deformity. The condition is often referred to as the “pump bump” because it is commonly experienced by people wearing heels. The soft tissue located at the back of the heel experiences irritation from the rubbing of the large bony area against footwear, irrespective of the type of shoe worn. Pain in the back of the heel, redness, and inflammation is characteristic of this condition. 

Fitting Shoes

Wearing tightly-fitting shoes can lead to peripheral neuropathy as it exerts excessive pressure on the nerves. Further, poorly fitting shoes can lead to toe deformities (hammer toes), corns, ingrown toenails, and calluses. The smooth shape of a shoe or a shoe that may not be a good fit for the contour of your foot can result in pain. 

How to diagnose foot and heel pain?

The first step to diagnosis is a physical examination. The medical professional will observe your gait, heel alignment, swelling, calluses, bruising, and tenderness here. The expert will also test your range of motion through active and passive movement. Further, X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound scans will be conducted better to understand the joints, bones, and soft tissues. These options will help you gain a comprehensive diagnosis and decide the course of treatment. 

Conservative Treatment Options for Foot and Heel Pain

Most treatment options for foot and heel pain are non-surgical. According to our experts, conservative treatment options include- 

  1. Stretching and strengthening exercises- Gentle stretches can help reduce tightness around the affected area and improve mobility. It is important to remember that the exercises should gradually increase in intensity to avoid further sprain. 
  2. Physical therapy- Various physiotherapy modalities, including massages, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and ultrasound therapy, help in treating affected tissues within the foot and heel. This helps reduce pain and inflammation and increases circulation and strength. 
  3. Pain relievers- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually prescribed by your doctor to reduce inflammation and pain. Experts highly recommend using this in combination with hot and cold therapy. 
  4. Orthotic devices- Custom-made shoe splints, or a supportive shoe in general, can help reduce inflammation or pain caused by excessive pressure on the heel.  
  5. Taping- Using athletic or medical tape to support the foot or heel arch can help reduce pain. 
  6. Injections- Steroid injections can help ease pain and swelling, especially for plantar fasciitis and bursitis. However, this option is considered one of the last resorts in treatment. 

When to see a doctor or specialist?

Most people prefer depending on home remedies to recover from a sprain. While these techniques may work, a consultation may be required to cope with the distressing symptoms. A few common signs that suggest seeking professional help include the following-

  1. Pain that does not reduce with rest or pain relievers in a few weeks. 
  2. Severe inflammation, stiffness, and bruising 
  3. Restricted movement 

Hence, consult a specialist immediately if you are struggling with these symptoms. 

Prevention Tips for Foot and Heel Pain

Simple yet effective lifestyle changes can help prevent foot and heel pain. Our experts suggest the following preventative measures for foot and heel pain

  • Wear shoes that fit have shock-absorbent soles, and supportive heels
  • Repair or replace shoes that are worn out
  • Practice basic warm-up and cool-down exercises when playing sports or engaging in workouts. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Practice stretching exercises to improve flexibility 

These practices and many more not only help in preventing pain but also improve strength and functionality. 

Manage Your Foot pain While Walking With Physiotattva

We understand that constantly dealing with pain can be overwhelming and exhausting. Keeping this in mind, we design holistic care plans with advanced treatment modalities and pain management techniques that aid in a smooth recovery. We also educate our clients on basic lifestyle practices that help reduce the risk of future injuries and improve their well-being.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I diagnose foot and heel pain?

General physical examinations, X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound scans can help determine underlying factors linked to foot and heel pain. Further, by observing inflammation, stiffness, tenderness, bruising, and range of motion, the doctor can understand the intensity of the injury. 

What can I do to prevent foot and heel pain while walking?

Our experts recommend wearing fitted shoes, inserting them if necessary, or using tape to ensure support and stability while walking. These practices can help prevent foot or heel pain. In addition, walking on even surfaces and gradually increasing the intensity of physical activity can protect the heel and foot from strain. 

Is surgery necessary for treating foot and heel pain while walking?

For most cases of foot and heel pain, surgery is not required. However, surgery may be recommended for severe injuries or conditions that may not heal after 6 to 12 weeks of treatment. This is true, especially in the case of conditions like plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. 

Are there any simple home remedies that can help alleviate foot and heel pain while walking?

Several home remedies help alleviate pain and inflammation in the foot and heel. Our experts recommend following the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate), wearing supportive shoes, using orthotics, wearing a night splint, and practicing basic warm-up and cool-down exercises when walking.

What are the risk factors for developing foot and heel pain while walking?

There are specific categories of people who have a higher probability of experiencing pain in their feet and heels. They include-

  • Middle-aged people 
  • Physically active individuals
  • People who are overweight 
  • Children ages between 8 and 13 (especially boys)
  • Pregnant individuals