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Heel pain


Alternative Names:

Pain - heel

Home Care:

The following steps may help relieve your heel pain:

  • Use crutches to take weight off your feet.
  • Rest as much as possible for at least a week.
  • Apply ice to the painful area. Do this at least twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes, more often in the first couple of days.
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • Wear proper-fitting shoes.
  • Use a heel cup, felt pads in the heel area, or shoe insert.
  • Wear night splints.

Your doctor may recommend other treatments, depending on the cause of your heel pain.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your doctor if your heel pain does not get better after 2 - 3 weeks of home treatment. Also call if:

  • Your pain is getting worse despite home treatment
  • Your pain is sudden and severe
  • You have redness or swelling of your heel
  • You cannot put weight on your foot
What to Expect at Your Office Visit:

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:

  • Have you had this type of heel pain before?
  • When did your pain begin?
  • Do you have pain upon your first steps in the morning or after your first steps after rest?
  • Is the pain dull and aching or sharp and stabbing?
  • Is it worse after exercise?
  • Is it worse when standing?
  • Did you fall or twist your ankle recently?
  • Are you a runner? If so, how far and how often do you run?
  • Do you walk or stand for long periods of time?
  • What kind of shoes do you wear?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?

Your doctor may order a foot x-ray. You may need to see a physical therapist to learn exercises to stretch and strengthen your foot. Your doctor may recommend a night splint to help stretch your foot. Surgery may be recommended in some cases.

Prevention:

Maintaining flexible and strong muscles in your calves, ankles, and feet can help prevent some types of heel pain. Always stretch and warm-up before exercising.

Wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes with good arch support and cushioning. Make sure there is enough room for your toes.

References:

Murphy GA. Disorders of tendons and fascia and adolescent and adult pes planus. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 82.

McGee DL. Podiatric procedures. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2013:chap 51.


Review Date: 3/8/2014
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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