Are you suffering from heel pain and don’t know what to do? Continue to read to know about the home remedies to manage your heel pain!
Heel pain is a common problem that affects the foot and ankle. Anything that causes lots of pressure on the heel or foot can cause heel pain. It affects people of all age groups and gender. Depending on the severity, it can also lead to immobility and hamper participation in daily activities. The heel has got a padded cushion of fatty tissue that helps to hold its shape despite any amount of pressure of body weight or movement of the body. The pain, tenderness and soreness can be felt anywhere in the heel, but it typically affects the area behind the heel, beneath the heel or within the heel bone itself.1,2
What Causes Heel Pain?
There are a lot of causes of heel pain. Scroll down to know more.
- Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue (fascia) that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. Its important role is to keep the bones and joints in position. Overstretching or bruising this ligament can cause severe inflammation (swelling) and heel pain. It worsens when the person starts walking, especially in the morning or after a period of rest.2
- Achilles Tendonitis: It refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It occurs due to overuse of this tendon; thus, it is very common in basketball players and runners. It is characterised by pain behind the heel, ankle and calf muscles.1,3
- Bursitis: It refers to swelling of fluid-filled sacs called the bursa. These sacs provide a cushion to the joints, thus allowing fluid movement. There is a dull aching pain at the back of the heel accompanied by redness and swelling.1,3
- Heel Fracture or Ruptured Achilles Tendon: It refers to the swelling and sudden sharp pain in the heels, causing a snapping or popping sound at the time of injury and difficulty in walking.3
- Heel Spurs: It’s a bony growth formed on the heel bone due to long-term plantar fasciitis. Some people experience pain due to heel spurs.1
- Sever’s Disease: It is the heel pain that is most common in children of age 8 to 16 years. This disease basically results from the stress placed on the growth area of the heel bone. When a child does an excessive amount of running or jumping, it leads to inflammation of the growth area of the heel bone, which causes pain.2
Symptoms of Heel Pain:
There are various symptoms of heel pain:
- Pain can occur behind the heel, at the bottom of the heel or in the heel bone.1
- The pain usually worsens upon getting up early in the morning. This is a common symptom in the case of plantar fasciitis.2,4There is swelling and tenderness in the heel.4
Home Remedies for Heel Pain:
Try the following home remedies to get rid of heel pain at home:
1. Aloe Vera
The bioactive components of aloe vera have anti-inflammatory properties, which help in decreasing the inflammation caused due to plantar fasciitis.2,5 Massage aloe vera gel topically on the soles of the feet to help with managing the inflammation. This, in turn, can help to reduce heel pain.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is suspected in patients with plantar fasciitis. Supplementation with adequate doses of Vitamin D will give symptomatic relief.6 Milk, mushrooms, and egg yolk are rich sources of Vitamin D. You can include them in your diet to deal with Vitamin D deficiency.
3. Lavender Essential Oil
It is useful in the management of pain.7 You can mix one to two drops of lavender oil in coconut or olive oil and massage the mixture on the bottom of your feet. You may also add a few drops of lavender oil to warm water and soak your feet in it to get relief from the pain.
4. Willow Bark
It is used to deal with the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.8 Add willow bark to water and boil it for five to 10 minutes. Now, keep it for 20 to 30 minutes and strain this with the help of a mesh strainer. Two cups of tea will help in easing the pain.
Ginger is helpful in reducing pain caused by plantar fasciitis.8 Soak the foot in hot water infused with freshly grounded ginger for 10 minutes. Ginger is an easily available ingredient and can be used to deal with heel pain efficiently.
Other Home Remedies
Rest: It is the key to recovery if overuse is the reason for pain.9
Cold Compress: Putting an ice pack under the bottom of the foot can help in alleviating pain, especially after any strenuous activity or after a long duration of standing or sitting.9
Orthotics: Orthotic shoe inserts help distribute the body weight more evenly. These shoe inserts are easily available ready-made at most pharmacies or can also be custom made.1
Splint: In severe cases, a night splint can be worn to hold the feet in place as you sleep. It helps in stretching plantar fascia muscles and alleviating the pain.9
Supportive Shoes: You should remember the following:
- Make sure to always wear a good fit shoe.
- Avoid wearing flat shoes that lack support.
- Don’t walk barefoot on hard surfaces.
- Wear athletic shoes more often as they provide good support to your arch, which helps in removing pressure from the heels.9
Exercise: Daily foot stretching exercises help to keep plantar fascia muscles from pulling and tightening up, thus helping the heel to bear the body weight when you move.9
Massage: Massaging the trigger points of the foot may decrease pain in the patients suffering from plantar fasciitis.10
When to Seek Medical Help?
Consult the doctor immediately if you feel the following:
- Severe heel pain interfering with normal day to day activities
- Pain that keeps getting worse and reoccurs frequently
- No improvement in pain after two weeks of following home remedies
- Pain is accompanied by tingling or loss of sensation in the foot
- Presence of another condition such as diabetes.3
Heel pain is a very common problem nowadays. The patients usually complain of gradual onset of pain, which is worse in the morning. Home remedies such as lavender essential oil, ginger, aloe vera etc., are useful in dealing with heel pain. Supportive measures such as rest, stretching and orthosis are also beneficial and recommended. If you continue to have symptoms (especially for more than six months), a night splint is useful. In the majority of the cases, these remedies are found to be effective in reducing pain.