Products for Heel Pain from Heel Spurs or Plantar Fasciitis

What Products May Bring Relief For Your Heel Pain?

Heel pain is one of the most common and irritatingly painful foot problems. It can strike at nearly any age, regardless of health status or activity level. There are a variety of possible causes of heel pain, but the most common cause are heel spur syndrome, or plantar fasciitis.

To determine the cause of your heel pain, it's best have an evaluation by a podiatrist (foot specialist) or other health care provider. This is important because sometimes the pain can be a symptoms of something else, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome (a pinched nerve or "nerve entrapment), a  stress fracture of the foot, a torn tendon, Sever's disease (a condition most common in children between the ages of eight and 13), a bone tumor, or even an autoimmune disease.

Heel pain that is caused by the more common conditions, such as plantar fasciitis and bursitis, can often be alleviated with the help of some popular foot products.

1
Heel Cups

Heel Cups. Credit: Pricegrabber.com

Heel pain usually occurs on the under surface of the heel, causing pain with each step. The under surface of the heel is also called the "plantar surface" which you can remember as the area of your foot which you "plant" when you take a step.

When the pain flares up, it is best to never go barefoot, which can make symptoms worse. Wearing a supportive shoe to decrease pressure under the foot is ideal. Heel cups, which are placed in shoes, provide additional cushioning under the heel, helping to offset some of the pain.

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2
Foot Roller

Foot Roller. Credit: Pricegrabber.com

Over-stressed ligaments on the sole of the foot can lead to soreness and inflammation. In most cases, heel pain is linked to the foot's ligament-like structure known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia, which supports the foot's arch, attaches at the ball of the foot and at the heel. Using a foot roller to massage and stretch the plantar fascia is a great method for alleviating soreness and preventing future pain flare-ups.

It's important to note that a foot roller will not likely bring immediate relief. Its purpose is to stretch the plantar fascia so later on you will have less pain when you walk on your foot.

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3
Stretch Bands

Foot Stretch Bands. Credit: renovafootcare.com / Google Images

Stretch bands, also known as resistance bands, are used to stretch the ankle, which increases flexibility in the Achilles tendon. Stretching of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon are beneficial for plantar fasciitis as well as pain in the back of the heel. Most stretch bands are made from latex, but latex-free bands are available if you're allergic to latex.

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4
Thera-Band® First Steps to Foot Relief

Image Courtesy of Pricegrabber.com. Credit: Pricegrabber.com
This all-in-one kit contains a foot roller, resistance band, instructions for stretching exercises, and Biofreeze® Roll-On, which is a topical cold therapy gel that can be used for temporary pain relief. The roll-on bottle makes it easy for massaging sore areas of the foot.

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5
Arch Supports

Arch Supports. Credit: courtesy of Pricegrabber.com

Arch supports, also called orthotics, are an important part of heel pain treatment and prevention. Plantar fasciitis and other causes of heel pain, such as bursitis, are usually aggravated by increased strain on the feet—often due to faulty biomechanics, or foot functioning. Orthotics decrease stress and strain on the feet and help correct any biomechanical problems.

If custom-made orthotics from a podiatrist are not an option, look for over-the-counter brands that have a solid arch that can't be easily flattened. When the heel pain subsides, orthotics can help prevent it from recurring.

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6
Night Splint

Airform Night Splint. Credit: www.ossur.com / Google Images

One of the key symptoms of plantar fasciitis is pain with those first steps out of bed in the morning. When resting, our feet are flexed downward for long periods of time, causing the calf muscles to temporarily lose flexibility. This in turn puts a strain on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia when we get back on our feet in the morning.

One way you can alleviate these painful first steps is by doing calf stretches before getting out of bed. A night splint device can be helpful for keeping the foot from flexing down while you sleep, which helps maintain flexibility of the calf muscles. A night splint may be recommended by your health care provider if morning heel pain is a problem, and in some cases may be covered by health insurance.

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7
Heel Lifts

Heel Lifts. Credi: Pricegrabber.com

Sometimes heel pain occurs at the back of the heel, in the area where the Achilles tendon (click for image) attaches to the heel bone.

Retrocalcaneal bursitis is one condition that causes pain in the back of the heel. Additionally, pain in the back of the heel may be from calcaneal apophysitis. Calcaneal apophysitis is one of the common causes of heel pain in children and adolescents and is a condition that is caused by irritation of the heel bone's growth plate.

If you or your child are diagnosed with one of these conditions, your doctor may recommend heel lifts to be placed in shoes. Heel lifts are an inexpensive and effective way to reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.

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8
Don't Forget "Non-Product" Treatments

In our society we are most often looking for a quick fix, a pill or a devise that will resolve a problem without interfering with our already-too-busy lives.

If heel pain is due to an overuse injury, cutting back on the activity which caused your pain is a good option.

Heel pain tends to be much worse for people who are overweight. Cutting back on your calories, if you carry extra pounds, may not only reduce your heel pain, but your risk of heart disease and cancer as well. Since heel pain can not only lead to extra pounds, but makes it difficult to exercise to shed those extra pounds, it may help to talk to your doctor in planning an approach that works for you.

Taking the time to consult a physical therapist may be very helpful. Rather than trying exercises which tend to work for the masses, your physical therapist can design a series of stretching and strengthening exercises which work for you specifically. She may also have advice on foot products she has found to be particularly helpful for her other clients.

Finally, check out these 15 ways to fight heel pain, to see if there are any other modalities you can add to your regimen to reduce heel pain.

Sources:

Huffer, D., Hing, W., Newton, R., and M. Clair. Strength Training for Plantar Fasciitis and the Intrinsic Foot Musculature: A Systematic Review. Physical Therapy in Sport. 2016 Aug 18. (Epub ahead of print).

McCormick, C., Bonanno, D., and K. Landorf. The Effect of Customized and Sham Foot Orthoses on Plantar Pressures. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 2013. 6:19.

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