What to Do for Heel Pain or Sore Arches
If you are dealing with persistent pain in your heels or arches, one small silver lining is that you are far from alone. Heel pain is one of the most frequent symptoms we and other foot and ankle surgeons treat – if not the most frequent.
Whether your pain is concentrated in the arch, right beneath the heel, or even around toward the back of the heel, the main thing you probably want to know is what you can do about it.
Fortunately, the majority of heel and arch pain cases (more than 90%) can be treated effectively within a few months using non-surgical techniques. But that said, not every case of heel pain will respond equally well to the same set of treatments.
Know Thy Heel Pain Enemy
Although pain in the heel or arch may seem like a relatively simple, straightforward symptom that should be easy to explain, the reality isn’t so cut and dried.
The feet and ankles are complex structures, containing a multitude of different muscles, tendons, and other tissues. Aggravation or injury to one or more of any number of them may be responsible for the pain you are feeling.
And even when the problem can be narrowed down to a particular part of your body, that is often not enough information to address the problem effectively..
A great example is plantar fasciitis. This is the most common heel pain-related diagnosis, and concerns strain or aggravation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the arch, connecting to the heel bone and base of the toes.
To know that the plantar fascia is in pain is the first step, but knowing how it is being aggravated will shape the course of treatment. That’s when we need to go deeper:
- Are you a runner, or otherwise active in sports? Overuse could be causing your plantar fasciitis.
- Do you spend all day at work on your feet? Standing on hard surfaces? That could be responsible.
- Do you spend a lot of time in unsupportive shoes? (We always have to consider this one.)
- Is there an abnormality in your foot structure that is causing excess weight and stress to be placed on your plantar fascia?
In order to recommend the best possible treatment plan for your situation, we need to know all the details.
Many people fall into a trap of trying a certain remedy for heel pain, only to be disappointed when they don’t experience good results. But it’s not that they have some invincible Hulk of a case that is beyond hope. It’s much more likely that they just haven’t tried the right form of treatment for their circumstances!
Your Best Step – See Us for Your Heel and Arch Pain!
We know this probably sounds self-serving, but there are so many people in our community enduring day-to-day discomfort that could greatly improve their circumstances by visiting a foot and ankle specialist.
We know how to determine the root causes of heel and arch pain, and address them effectively. From traditional methods such as custom orthotics that provide corrective support to structural abnormalities, to advanced treatments such as laser therapies to accelerate soft tissue healing, we can accommodate your condition and needs like no other.
And if the fear of potential surgery is holding you back, don’t let it. Surgery is rarely needed for heel pain. If by chance surgery is a consideration, we will gladly discuss it fully with you and answer any questions you may have—but ultimately, it is always your decision whether you want to pursue that option.
Steps to Help with Heel and Arch Pain in the Meantime
Please keep in mind that these are not meant to be complete solutions. Do not rely on them to fully eliminate the problem – although if they do, that’s great! As a bonus, knowing if these steps had any effect on your pain is helpful information for us.
- Use a cold roller. Massage your arch and heel by rolling a firm object beneath it. This can be a professional device, but something as simple as a mostly filled water bottle put in the freezer can work wonders, too.
- Stretch in the morning and during the day. For conditions like plantar fasciitis, gently stretching the arch in the morning can help reduce that initial jolt of pain upon leaving bed. Gently flex your toes and upper foot backward (using a belt or strap wrapped around the ball of the foot, ideally) and hold for about 20 seconds, repeating several times per foot.
- Consider switching up your shoes. If your shoes are contributing to your heel or arch pain, switching to a more accommodating pair with better support could provide a stark improvement.
Start Receiving Direct Care for Your Heel or Arch Pain
Whether persistent pain has been a relatively new development or something you’ve been dealing with for months or years, there is no reason to delay getting the help you need any longer. Conditions such as these rarely go away on their own without the root problems being addressed, and that’s just what we intend to do.