Heel pain in the morning is a common foot problem that can be as a result of foot deformities or physical activities that strain the tissues of the foot. The pain is felt at the bottom of the heel or behind it and it is not usually a health threat in majority of the cases. This article explores the causes of heel pain in the morning, the symptoms associated with the problem, people at a risk of developing the problem as well as ways to prevent and treat the problem.
What leads to heel pain?
Generally, heel pain can be as a result of foot problems such as plantar fasciitis where the plantar fascia tissues tear due to strain, heel bursitis which is caused by physical strain on the heel or pressure from ill fitting shoes, heel bumps from excess friction or wearing high heels before the foot bones mature, tarsal tunnel syndrome where a nerve in the foot is compressed, heel pad inflammation due to thin skin layers and a lot of pressure on the heel, severs disease which is caused by overuse of the heel bone, stress fractures resulting from physical activities such as running and Achilles tendinitis where the Achilles tendon continuously degenerates.
Other causative factors include increased weight, flat feet, cavities in the bones, bruises in the bones, rupturing of tendons in the heel, gout, improper posture, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, and swollen nerves in the foot and bone infections.
People at a risk of developing heel pain
Medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes put one at a high risk of heel pain. Long distance runners are also likely to suffer from heel pain due to the high impact on the heels during running. Pregnant women, people who spend a lot of time on their feet and overweight people put a lot of strain on their legs and can develop heel pain. Elderly people have thin skin layers on their heels which puts them at a risk of developing pain in the heel.
What symptoms are associated with heel pain?
Heel pain can be felt in the middle, sides or the front of the bottom of the heel. Heel pain in the morning or after a period of rest is greater than the heel pain experienced when the body is active. The reason behind this is muscles contract during periods of rest and this contractions cause friction in the torn tissues which leads to inflammation. When a person exerts weight on the inflamed foot, the pain felt is intense.
When one gets on their feet and stays active for a while, the muscles relax and the pain subsides. However, if the person stays on their feet for a prolonged amount of time, the tissues experience strain and the pain increases. Other signs of heel pain include the swelling of the affected region and the tightening of calf muscles.
How can one treat heel pain in the morning at home?
Placing ice packs on the inflamed area a few times during the day helps reduce the pain in the heel. One can use anti-inflammatory drugs and orthotic insoles to deal with the pain. After waking up, performing a few stretching exercises of the foot such as toe crunches could help alleviate the discomfort by making the ligaments relax. If the problem is not severe, taking some time to rest could enable the body to repair the worn out tissues.
Prevention of heel pain in the morning
A change in footwear from ill fitting shoes or high heels to shoes with good cushioning can treat the problem. Losing weight is also recommended so as to reduce the strain on the ligaments. Performing stretching exercises in the morning or after exercising prevents damage to the ligaments.
What medical treatments are available for heel pain in the morning?
For people suffering from plantar fasciitis, conservative treatments and anti-inflammatory drugs can help them recover. In the cases where the anti-inflammatory drugs do not help, corticosteroids can be injected in the body. However, corticosteroids may lead to the weakening of the plantar fascia and are not advisable to use.
Undergoing physical therapy, using night splints and undergoing surgery can be used to correct heel problems thus ending the pain. Shockwave therapy is used where a patient has not responded to conservative treatments for heel pain in the morning.