Heel Pain Treatment

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Written by Dr James Tan

Contents

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

    To help you find effective ways to get relief from 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 can be a wide variety of heel pain causes. 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, most often felt 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 may not always be 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 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-Inflammatory Medications: Prescription painkillers and non-steroidal 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 important 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 specialists 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.

    Locations

    Camden Medical

    1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

    Singapore 248649

    Mount Alvernia Hospital

    820 Thomson Road

    Medical Centre D #05-60

    Singapore 574623

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    Heel Pain Treatment With Our Heel Pain Specialist

    Dr James Tan, our heel specialist at Ray of Health, deals with various orthopaedic conditions of the body. He advises his patients to consult him in case of any pain or injury at the earliest so that the condition can be assessed and diagnosed properly.

    1. Registration: First, register with Dr James' team and book an appointment here.
    2. First appointment: At the first appointment, Dr James Tan will carry out a thorough physical exam for your heel pain, and evaluate your medical history.
    3. Diagnosis: Typically, additional diagnostic tests are required to assess the causes of the problems accurately. This usually comes in the form of MRI or X-ray scans.
    4. Personalised Treatment Plan: Dr James will then create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs, which could include undergoing surgery, and recommend the necessary treatment modalities to you.
    5. Follow-up sessions: Dr James will schedule additional follow-up sessions to monitor the recovery process until you fully recover.

    Disclaimer: Treatment plans may differ for different patients. Please contact Dr James for more information.

    dr james tan

    Accreditations

    1. Mount Elizabeth Orchard
    2. Mount Elizabeth Novena
    3. Farrer Park Hospital
    4. Mount Alvernia Hospital
    5. Aptus Surgery Centre
    6. Novaptus Surgery Centre

    Medisave & Insurance Shield Plan Approved

    If you are a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident of Singapore, some of our orthopaedic procedures can be claimed under Medisave. The claimable amount will vary based on the procedure's complexity.

    For other situations, please consult our friendly clinic staff regarding the use of your Integrated Shield Plan insurance.

    Personal Insurance

    1. Great Eastern
    2. Prudential
    3. HSBC Life

    Corporate Insurance

    1. MHC
    2. Fullerton
    3. Adept
    4. Alliance
    5. IHP
    6. iXchange
    7. Parkway Shenton
    8. Bupa
    9. Cigna

    Exercises That Can Help with Heel Pain

    Certain exercises and high-load strength training can help you with heel pain relief, 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 afterwards, 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 risk 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. Only a formal medical exam done by a trained professional can tell you exactly what is causing your heel pain. A qualified specialist can recommend an effective Achilles heel pain treatment.

    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 the heel.

    What Are the Effective At-Home Heel Pain Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Options?

    Plantar fasciitis heel pain treatment Singapore home remedies focus 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

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help relieve 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.

    ORTHOQUEST With Dr James

    Can Plantar Fasciitis Heal On Its Own?

    Plantar Fasciitis can heal on its own. However, ignoring it can lead to complications. Persistent pain and discomfort not only disrupt your daily life but swelling and inflammation can exacerbate the condition and affect your mobility.

    The risk of chronic plantar fasciitis may rise if left untreated, which can lead to tears of the fascia or forming fibroma.

    How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?

    Besides treating plantar fasciitis at home, here are 4 treatment options to treat this condition:

    High-Intensity Laser Therapy (HILT)

    Uses high-powered lasers to deliver highly focused and intense light energy deep into the tissues to accelerate the natural healing process. It is non-invasive,  encourages tissue healing and reduces inflammation and pain. 

    Shockwave

    A non-invasive treatment for treating pain and inflammation through stimulating tissue repair. It uses high acoustic waves to quicken the growth of new blood vessels and tissue regeneration. 

     

     

     

    PRP Injection

    Also known as Platelet-rich plasma injection, it is a regenerative treatment that consists of the injection of your own platelets to trigger the body's natural repair and regeneration processes.

    Endoscopic Surgery

    Two small incisions about less than half an inch long will be made under your ankle bone. A surgeon will then insert a small camera called an endoscope into one of the openings and a tiny knife in the other to release your plantar fascia.

    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 relieve heel pain and prevent it from worsening, 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: Good 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 suitable 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.

    Disclaimer

    The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult your healthcare provider or specialist doctor regarding any medical condition that you might be facing and act on the doctor’s recommendations.

    References:

    1. Robert Caratun, "Stubborn heel pain", National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962984/
    2. "Heel pain", National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003181.htm
    3. Miguel A. Medina Pabón; Usker Naqvi., "Achilles Tendinopathy", National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538149/

    About The Author

    dr james tan

    Dr James Tan Chung Hui

    Dr James Tan is a skilled orthopaedic surgeon at Quantum Orthopaedics located at Camden Medical and Mount Alvernia Hospital, known for providing specialised medical services. Dr Tan has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine in Singapore. Apart from partnering with the industry to introduce various treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions.

    Dr Tan specialises in treating sports injuries of the knee, shoulder and elbow joints, as well as cartilage and meniscus surgery. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.

    Medical Education and Affiliations
    MBBS - National University of Singapore (NUS), Faculty of Medicine
    Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCS)
    MMed - Master of Medicine in Orthopaedic Surgery (NUS)
    Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh)
    Adjunct Assistant Professor | NUS, LKC
    Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports and Exercise Medicine
    Head of Department | Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Centre
    Awards
    Principal Investigator of Tissue Engineering
    National Medical Research Council grants
    Collaboration with Scientists at NTU, TUM, A*Star, Osteopore & Trendlines Medical Singapore

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