Why your heel pain treatments may not be working…

24 January 2024

Heel pain is a common problem which can significantly impact the quality of life of many, hindering daily activities, and causing discomfort even during the most mundane tasks. In this editorial, we explore the complexities of heel pain, and the reasons behind why you may be finding a lack of success in some treatments.

Heel pain can be attributed to numerous reasons, with the most common cause being plantar fasciitis – the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. However other conditions, such as achilles tendinitis, nerve impingement and stress fractures, can also be causative factors. The challenge lies in accurately diagnosing the specific cause, as this will directly affect treatment.

One reason for an ineffective treatment is that many tend to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach from Dr Google. What works for one person may not work for another, as the root cause of heel pain can vary.  The cycle of ineffective treatments, failing proper diagnosis, can lead to frustration and disappointment, as individuals invest time and money into treatments that were never designed to address their individual specific condition. 

Another critical aspect that is often not prioritised in heel pain treatment is lifestyle factors. Individuals may hesitate to make the necessary modifications to their daily activities, as they deem this an inconvenience. Such modifications may be avoiding prolonged periods of standing, adjusting footwear choices, and adhering to a strengthening program. These simple adjustments can significantly impact the success of treatment and how quickly success will occur.

One of the most important aspects that is often overlooked is the role of a holistic approach in heel pain management.  An individuals’ overall health and muscle imbalances can influence the effectiveness of treatment, especially in the short term.  A strategy that encompasses lifestyle modifications (not overdoing exercise, not standing too long, appropriate footwear choices), physical therapy (shockwave therapy, orthotic therapy, massage, muscle strengthening) and in some cases weight management, may be necessary for lasting relief.

A multifaceted approach, accurate diagnosis, and a willingness to address underlying lifestyle factors is crucial in eliminating heel pain.  Once this is done you will notice the benefits of your physical therapy (shockwave, orthotics, stretching/strengthening) working faster for you, and you get to enjoy having pain free feet again!