Heel Pain

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

Table of Contents

    Heel pain can knock you off your feet. This unique type of foot pain can range from a minor annoyance to a completely debilitating problem. Since staying on your feet is such an integral part of leading a happy, healthy, productive life, finding an effective heel pain treatment is essential. Fortunately, we are here to help!

    To help you find effective ways to get rid of heel pain, let’s take a closer look at the different types of heel pain and the potential underlying causes. In this expert guide, we will take a deep dive into the diverse factors of heel pain and look at everything from common conditions like plantar fasciitis to more severe issues such as Achilles tendon tears.

    Ready to treat your heel pain? Here is everything that you need to know about heel pain causes, symptoms, and practical approaches to pain management.

    Why Does My Heel Hurt?

    There are a wide variety of heel pain causes. To help you get started on the path to recovery, let’s look at some of the most common causes of heel pain.

    • Plantar Fasciitis: This condition can pop up when you’ve got inflammation in your plantar fascia (the band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the toes). One of the most common signs of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain in your heel and that is often most painful first thing in the morning.
    • Heel Spurs Protrusions: If you have plantar fasciitis, it is common to have heel spur protrusions that develop on the underside of your heel bone. These aren’t always painful, depending on their location.
    • Achilles Tendinitis: When you have an inflammation in your Achilles tendon (a condition called Achilles tendinitis), you’ll have a swelling that runs down the large tendon that connects your calf muscles to the back of the heel. This is a common problem for runners and athletes and it can cause pain in the back of the heel.
    • Stone Bruise: If you step on something hard, you cause trauma to your heel that creates a painful bruise.
    • Bursitis: Repetitive stress or excessive pressure on your heel can induce inflammation in the bursa sac that cushions the joint of your heel.
    • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: When you have compression or irritation of the posterior tibial nerve of the tarsal tunnel in your foot, you have tarsal tunnel syndrome (which is like carpal tunnel syndrome in your foot).
    • Stress Fractures: These tiny cracks in your heel bone can be caused by repetitive stress or overuse. This is especially common in athletes and highly active people.
    • Sever's Disease: Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Sever's Disease is a common condition in children and young people that can cause inflammation of the growth plate in their heel. The issue is often linked to growth spurts and significant increases in physical activity.
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and pain in multiple joints, including the heel.
    • Gout: This buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints can cause intense and severe pain in the heel.

    It's important to note that you need to see a doctor, podiatrist, or orthopaedic specialist if you are dealing with heel pain. To have an accurate diagnosis and get on the path to effective treatment, you need a healthcare professional to look at your unique symptoms and particular medical history.

    How Can I Relieve Heel Pain at Home?

    There are a range of things that you can do at home to reduce heel pain. While it is important to see a doctor for pain that lasts more than a few days, there are some things that you can do in the early stages of pain, as well as complementary treatments to support your treatment plan.

    • Rest: Give your feet a break by minimising walking or standing for long periods and avoiding anything that makes the pain worse.
    • Ice Therapy: Put ice on your heel for about 15 to 20 minutes several times a day (use a thin cloth to protect your skin from direct contact with the ice).
    • Stretching Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises, like towel stretches, calf stretches, and plantar fascia stretches, can reduce pain.
    • Supportive Footwear: It is important to wear shoes with proper arch support and cushioning. Avoid shoes with completely flat soles.
    • Shoe Inserts: On top of wearing good quality shoes, you may need to use over-the-counter or custom-made orthotic inserts for additional support and alignment.
    • Night Splints: Using night splints to keep your foot flexed upward while sleeping can be especially helpful to stretch your plantar fascia.
    • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Having excess body weight can contribute to heel pain, which is why maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on your feet.
    • Anti to Inflammatory Medications: Non to prescription, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Calf Muscle Massage: Gently massaging your calf muscles can relieve tension and help with blood circulation.
    • Avoid Barefoot Walking: It is important to wear shoes on hard surfaces, especially if you have plantar fasciitis.
    • Elevate Your Feet: Put your feet up to reduce swelling and promote circulation.
    • Modify Activities: If certain activities make your pain worse, it is essential to avoid them until your heel pain improves.

    Note: These suggestions are general and may not be appropriate for everyone. If your heel pain lasts for an extended time or starts to get worse, it could be a sign of cartilage injury and you need to talk to a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and a personalised treatment plan.

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    Heel Pain Treatment in Singapore

    For effective heel pain treatment, it is key to have a basic understanding of the common causes, like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Home remedies like rest, targeted exercises, and proper footwear, play a crucial role in alleviating heel pain. Of course, it is still important to talk to your heel pain treatment doctor for an accurate diagnosis and get a personalised treatment plan. By combining at-home treatment with professional guidance, you can deal with heel pain, regain your mobility, and improve your overall foot health.

    If you are dealing with foot pain and aching heels, don’t go it alone! Connect with our team of experts to get set up with a personalised recovery plan. To get started, just email us at hello@quantumortho.com.sg, call +65 6235 8781, or chat with us on WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572. We also offer treatment for back pain as well as sports injury treatment.

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    Locations

    Camden Medical

    1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

    Singapore 248649

    Mount Alvernia Hospital

    820 Thomson Road

    Medical Centre D #05-60

    Singapore 574623

    Are There Exercises That Can Help with Heel Pain?

    Certain exercises can help get rid of heel pain, especially if you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis or tight calf muscles. Here are some exercises that may help:

    • Plantar Fascia Stretch
      • Sit down and cross one foot over the opposite knee.
      • Hold your toes with one hand and gently pull them back toward your shin.
      • Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 4 times on each foot.
    • Calf Stretch (Wall Stretch)
      • Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at eye level.
      • Place one foot behind you with your knee straight and heel on the ground.
      • Bend your front knee while keeping your back heel on the ground.
      • Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 4 times on each leg.
    • Towel Stretch
      • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
      • Loop a towel around the ball of one foot and gently pull the towel toward you.
      • Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 4 times on each foot.
    • Calf Raises
      • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, near a stable surface for support.
      • Slowly raise your heels off the ground and put your body weight onto the balls of your feet.
      • Hold the pose at the top, then lower your heels back down.
      • Repeat 15 to 20 times for a set, and perform 2 to 3 sets.
    • Toe Tapping
      • Sit with your feet flat on the ground.
      • Lift your toes while keeping your heels on the ground, then lower them back down.
      • Repeat this tapping motion for 1 to 2 minutes, several times a day.
    • Marble Pick-Up
      • Place marbles on the floor and use your toes to pick them up.
    • Intrinsic Foot Muscle Exercise:
      • Sit with your feet flat on the ground.
      • Try to scrunch up a towel or small cloth using only your toes.
      • Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
    • Rolling a Golf Ball:
      • Sit in a chair and roll a golf ball under the arch of your foot.
      • Apply gentle pressure and roll for a few minutes, focusing on any tender areas.

    As you start with any workouts to relieve heel pain, you should start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration. If you’re in more pain afterward, stop the exercises and talk with a healthcare professional.

    Understanding Achilles Tendon Inflammation

    Achilles tendon inflammation (known as Achilles tendinitis) is a very common cause of heel pain. It is especially important to know how to properly manage this painful condition so that you can effectively treat it and prevent future pain. Keep on reading below for key information that you need to know.

    What is Causing Swelling In My Achilles Tendon?

    Inflammation in your Achilles tendon, a condition known as Achilles tendinitis, can have different causes. Here are some common factors that contribute to the inflammation of your Achilles tendon:

    • Overuse or Repetitive Strain: Excessive or repetitive stress on your Achilles tendon can cause inflammation. Things like running and jumping in particular can cause pain. If you suddenly increase your physical activity, you may also get inflammation in your Achilles tendon.
    • Tight or Weak Calf Muscles: Imbalances in the strength or flexibility of the muscles surrounding your Achilles tendon (especially in your calf muscles) can cause tendinitis.
    • Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes with inadequate support, a bad fit, or a lack of cushioning can increase the risk of Achilles tendinitis.
    • Sudden Intensity or Duration Changes in Activity: Increasing the intensity or duration of your workouts, especially if they work your Achilles tendon, can strain the tendon and lead to inflammation.
    • Flat Feet or Overpronation: If you have flat feet or a tendency to overpronate (rolling your foot inward when you walk) you might be putting increased stress on your Achilles tendon.
    • Age: As we get old, our tendons naturally lose some of their elasticity, which makes them more prone to injury.
    • Improper Warm-Up or Stretching: If you don’t stretch before workouts or your calf muscles aren’t properly warmed up, you are at an increased risk of Achilles tendon injuries.
    • Medical Conditions: Certain issues, such as psoriatic arthritis or reactive arthritis, can increase your risk of Achilles tendinitis.
    • Foot Structure Abnormalities: If you have an abnormal alignment of your foot or ankle, you may be putting more stress on the Achilles tendon. This is common with issues like a high arch.
    • Tight Achilles Tendon: Some people have a naturally tight Achilles tendon which can make them more prone to injury and inflammation.
    • Poor Gait: If you have a problematic walking or running gait, you may be putting excessive stress on your Achilles tendon, which can cause inflammation over time.

    If you are experiencing Achilles tendon pain or think that you may have tendinitis, it's essential to talk to a healthcare professional. It is impossible to guess or be diagnosed online. Only a formal medical exam done by a trained professional can tell you exactly what is causing your heel pain.

    Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

    Another common cause of heel pain is Plantar Fasciitis. This debilitating condition can be successfully managed, however, with the right treatment for pain in heel.

    What Are the Best Ways to Treat Plantar Fasciitis at Home?

    Home treatment for plantar fasciitis focuses on reducing pain and inflammation. Let’s look at some effective ways to treat plantar fasciitis at home.

    Rest vs Exercise for Plantar Fasciitis

    When the pain first strikes, it is important to give your feet a break when you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis pain. That means avoiding activities that make the pain worse, such as standing or walking for a long period.

    Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis

    Doing regular stretching exercises for your calf muscles can make a world of difference. Look to moves like towel stretches, calf stretches, and the plantar fascia stretch.

    Ice for Plantar Fasciitis Pain

    In addition to heel pain stretches, ice therapy is an effective way to deal with pain.  During the first couple of days after the onset of pain, put an ice pack on for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day.

    Foot Massage Plantar Fasciitis Pain

    Massaging the arch of your foot with your fingers or a tennis ball is a great way to relieve tension and improve blood flow.

    Anti-Inflammatory Medications Plantar Fasciitis Pain

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help get rid of pain and inflammation. Just note that it is important to listen to your doctor’s instructions and avoid taking medication for an extended period.

    Plantar Fasciitis Arch Support

    It is important to wear shoes with proper arch support to reduce the strain on your plantar fascia. Look for shoes with good cushioning, a supportive arch, and a low heel. If you aren’t ready to replace your shoes, look at orthotic inserts to your shoes for extra support.

    Night Splints for Plantar Fasciitis

    Your doctor may recommend wearing night splints to keep your foot flexed upward while sleeping and stretch the plantar fascia.

    Foot Taping for Plantar Fasciitis

    In addition to splints, your doctor might also advise trying taping your foot with athletic tape for additional support in your arch and to reduce strain on the plantar fascia.

    Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Excess body weight can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on the feet.

    Avoid Long Periods of Inactivity

    While rest is important, you should avoid extended periods of inactivity. Even gentle movements can go a long way in preventing stiffness.

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    Exercises To Help Relieve Heel Pain

    Check out this video below for effective stretching exercises that can help relieve your injury.

    Frequently-Asked Questions About Heel Pain Treatment in Singapore

    To help get rid of heel pain and prevent it from coming back, choosing the right shoes is crucial. Let’s look at some key features to look for when choosing shoes to prevent heel pain:

    • Arch Support: Shoes with good arch support distribute pressure evenly and reduce the strain put on your plantar fascia. It’s important to look for shoes with a contoured insole or go for orthotic inserts for additional support.
    • Cushioning: Opt for shoes with proper cushioning, especially in the heel and forefoot to help absorb shock and reduce impact on your heel.
    • Heel Support: Look for shoes with a firm heel counter (the back part of the shoe that surrounds your heel). A stable heel provides support and helps prevent pronation.
    • Shock Absorption: Shoes with good shock absorption properties will reduce the impact on your heel, which helps prevent pain. Materials like EVA (ethylene to vinyl acetate) or gel are good for shock absorption in the midsole of shoes.
    • Low Heel: Wearing high heels puts extra strain on your Achilles tendon and makes heel pain worse. While you don’t want flat shoes with no support, you should look for a middle group with low to mid to height heels
    • Wide Toe Box: Shoes with a wide toe box let your toes spread out naturally and reduce pressure on the front of your foot.
    • Flexibility: The best shoes offer a good balance between support and flexibility. If you have too much or too little flexibility in your shoe, it will affect the natural movement of the foot.
    • Correct Sizing: Make sure that your shoes fit you properly and don’t make compromises. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can be hugely problematic. It is important to measure your feet before buying shoes. Be aware that you won’t wear the same shoe size in every brand and your size can change over time.
    • Insert-Friendly Design: If you use orthopaedic inserts, look for shoes with a removable insole or a style that works with custom orthotics.
    • Specialised Shoes: Rather than opting for shoe insert, it can be more comfortable and effective to wear specialised shoes that are specifically made for your unique condition.

    Shoe brands like New Balance, Asics, and Saucony are popular options for people dealing with heel pain but the best shoes for you may be different. If you are dealing with acute or chronic pain, it is worth talking to a podiatrist or footwear specialist so that you can make informed choices based on your unique foot type and the specific causes of your heel pain.

    About the Author

    Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

    Dr James Tan C H

    Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore who has more than 10 years of experience in sports injury surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering with the industry to pioneer advanced and proven treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.