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There heelite, or heel pain, is an extremely common disorder in men and women, and there are numerous underlying causes of this injury, such as conditions affecting the heel bone itself, a bruise or a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis or tendonitis. The pain can be equally varied, from annoying pulsations to real debilitating "pangs".
But what are the causes of heelitis? And what are the remedies?
Causes of heelitis
Heel pain, which is often commonly called "heelitis", can be the main result of two diseases such as:
- plantar fasciitis, which refers to irritation and inflammation of the tight tissue that forms the arch of the foot and connects the heel bone to the base of the toes;
- tendinitis, which refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon, a large tendon similar to a cord, which attaches to the back of the heel bone.
Other less common causes of heel pain and, more generally, of heel pain, tarsal tunnel syndrome and stress fractures are other less common causes. There are also some risk factors that encourage the appearance of such prejudices, such as low bone mass (osteopenia) or an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia.
Other determining hypotheses could be a heel contusion, fat pad atrophy, Haglund's syndrome (with or without bursitis) or bone infections of the heel.
The Diagnosis of Heel
Most heel conditions can be diagnosed by analyzing your medical history and with a physical exam. In some cases, however, additional tests (blood, imaging, etc.) may be required.
With regard to the anamnesis, in particular, some questions will be asked such as:
- where is the pain?
- when do you feel the pain?
- Does the pain occur with weight-bearing or resting activity?
- if the pain occurs with weight-bearing activity, is it more noticeable in the morning after rest or later?
- does heel pain get worse at night?
- Are you experiencing any other symptoms besides heel pain, such as fever, numbness, or swelling?
- Were there any changes in your daily activity, or any trauma or injury that made your heel pain worse?
That said, the doctor will carry out a physical exam, inspecting various areas of the foot, including the heel, ankle, calf, and lower leg.
As anticipated, only in minority cases will blood tests or imaging tests such as x-rays of the heel be required.
Read also: Heel pain, treatment and prevention
The remedies for heelitis
Moving on to the heel pain remedies, everything will naturally depend on the root cause of the heel pain.
However, there are some treatments that are valid for any condition, such as:
- rest: for the most acute causes of heel pain, avoiding the activity that triggered it is certainly useful;
- iceFor most sources of heel pain, applying an ice pack to the heel for 20-minute intervals up to four times a day can help decrease swelling and relieve pain.
- bandageFoot bandage with sports tape or hypoallergenic tape is helpful for certain heel diagnoses such as plantar fasciitis, heel pad contusion, and heel pad syndrome.
- physical therapy: exercises and stretches can relax the tissues surrounding the heel bone. A few simple exercises, performed in the morning and evening, often help patients feel better quickly.
- modification of footwear: Depending on the cause of the heel pain, your doctor may recommend different foot supports;
- medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed for heel pain caused by problems such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, a heel contusion, and more.
The prevention of heelitis
Preventing heel pain symptoms can be a key component of long-term treatment of your condition.
Some common indications include:
- gradually increase activity levelsGradually increasing athletic activities over time and taking breaks can help prevent heel injuries
- maintaining ideal body weight: excess body weight increases the stress on the lower extremities, including the heel;
- wear the right footwear: Wearing appropriate and well-fitting footwear - shoes with adequate support and cushioning - is critical for the prevention of many types of heel pain;
- early detection of the problem: Usually the body will let you know when you are doing some type of activity that is causing an aggravation. Listening to symptoms, especially in the early stages, can give you the opportunity to tackle a problem before it becomes serious. Continuing to carry out an activity that is causing a worsening of symptoms can instead lead to a more significant problem, which will be more difficult to deal with.