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A tender, painful heel can cause significant discomfort and sometimes make walking all but impossible. A person may experience heel pain for a number of reasons, including bruising from a sudden impact or a medical condition known as plantar fasciitis, in which tissue becomes inflamed and irritated. Depending on the cause, there are usually several options for heel pain treatment. Most problems can be treated at home with rest, ice, light exercise, and cushioning shoe inserts. Debilitating or persistent heel problems should be brought to the attention of a doctor, who might order custom orthotics, prescribe painkillers, or suggest surgery for heel pain treatment.
Individuals who have minor heel pain due to bruising or plantar fasciitis can usually find relief by resting their feet for a few days and applying ice to numb the area and reduce inflammation. Doctors usually suggest that ice packs be used several times a day, for about ten minutes at a time. By icing the heel and avoiding excessive activity, pain usually begins to subside within hours and disappears in under a week. In addition, taking regular doses over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can help in heel pain treatment.
Sometimes, simply wearing more comfortable shoes or using store-bought inserts can provide immediate relief. Cushioning shoe inserts sold at pharmacies and supermarkets are specially designed to take strain off of the heel and protect it from impact when walking or running. Inserts may be soft foam or gel pads, or harder molds that provide extra arch support.
Some foot problems, such as severe plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, or disfigured bones do not respond to home heel pain treatment methods. An individual with persistent pain should visit a physician, who can perform a careful physical examination and take x-rays. Once a cause has been determined, the doctor may prescribe high-strength pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve chronic symptoms. Severe inflammation might necessitate a corticosteroid shot, in which concentrated anti-inflammatory medicine is injected directly into the foot tissue.
If the cause of heel pain is a structural problem, such as a flat arch or malformed bones, the doctor can order custom orthotic inserts or special shoes Orthotics provide support while helping to correct foot problems. Some patients benefit from physical therapy sessions with experts who can guide them through specialized exercise and stretching routines. A final option for heel pain treatment when physical therapy and orthotics are ineffective is surgery. Surgical procedures are typically done to remove excess bone or tissue, and mend damaged cartilage or tendons leading to the ankle.
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