Heel Pain Treatment Relief with orthotics and exercises

Heel pain, heel spurs and Plantar Fasciitis is a very common foot complaint in New Zealand; roughly 90,000 persons in this country suffer from heel pain or heel spurs. However, in most cases there is an easy, simple and affordable treatment solution available to ease or eliminate pain in the heel area.

Heel Pain Symptoms

Heel pain is mostly experienced with a person's first steps in the morning, when getting out of bed. Usually, a sharp stabbing pain presents itself at the bottom or front of the heel area, sometimes extending to the back of the heel.

The pain will diminish throughout the day as the nerves and tissue adjust themselves and become accustomed to the inflamed area. However, after longer periods of inactivity (e.g. sitting at home or driving) heel pain will return stronger and sharper.

During rest or inactivity, the ligaments under the foot (Plantar Fascia) will tighten and shorten. When getting up and body weight is rapidly placed on the foot the ligaments must stretch and quickly lengthen, causing micro-tearing of the plantar fascia band. This is why you'll experience, the stabbing heel pain with your first steps in the morning or after long periods of rest.

It should also be noted that heel pain sufferers often also experience very tight calf muscles, combined with tender Achilles Tendons (the tissue at the back of the heel).

Heel Pain Causes

The most common cause of heel pain (and also heel spurs) is a condition called "Plantar Fasciitis" (The Latin term for inflammation of Normally, the Plantar Fascia band is flexible and strong, however due to various factors such as abnormal stress, excessive weight, age, or poor foot function, the Fascia can become weak. For example, a lot of people suffer from over-pronation or fallen arches. This means that the foot flattens and rolls inwards with every step you take.

Heel Pain Treatment options

The treatment of heel pain consists of various measures, the most common being rest: i.e. avoid prolonged activity such as walking running and sports, ice packs: apply ice for only 5 mins, allowing the inflammation in the heel to cool down , losing weight. Some doctors use cortisone injections to freeze up the inflammation. This may work in the short term, but won't really solve the problem.

Research has shown that by doing a regime of daily exercises and wearing orthotics in your shoes (or arch supports), one can achieve effective, long term relief from heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. The exercises are designed to stretch and lengthen the plantar fascia, achilles tendons and also the calf muscles. The orthotics are designed to release the excess tension on the ligaments under the foot (the fascia), by supporting the arches and re-aligning the lower limb.

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