Acquiring knowledge about the nature of your heel pain is the first and most crucial step to treating your symptoms. We believe it is important to understand (i) why you have pain (ii) how it can be treated (iii) how treatments work and (iv) the expected time of recovery. Included below are some key points to increase your knowledge of heel pain:
Understand your pain
Start by having a good understanding of your heel pain. We would recommend that you review the section on ‘Understanding my heel pain’ and complete the short quiz to test your knowledge. Having knowledge of why you have pain, and factors that might contribute to your symptoms, might in fact reduce your pain! Remember that the symptoms you experience beneath the heel relate to many factors including the state of the tissue, your emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and various events in your day that can increase or decrease your pain.
The core approach to treating plantar heel pain
Our research into plantar heel pain, which involved reviewing the evidence and interviewing experts and people with plantar heel pain, is that a plan that includes education, stretching, foot taping, and footwear advice is considered to be the ‘core’ approach to treatment of this condition. We would recommend that you review the section ‘What is the best treatment for plantar heel pain‘ which reviews the importance of education and how to stretch your calf muscle and plantar fascia, tape your foot, change your footwear and modify your activity. This section also includes an outline of what to do if symptoms are persistent and not improving.
In most cases, treatment of plantar heel pain will require persistence and patience. We would encourage you to stay positive as the best available evidence tells us that you will improve with time. Go to the section on ‘Patient stories’ which includes real accounts of the experiences and challenges faced by people with plantar heel pain and how they treated their condition.
Do not look for a quick fix
There are numerous treatments for plantar heel pain and online sites claiming that plantar heel pain can be cured in 7 days. Do not look for a quick fix or a magic injection to cure your heel pain. High quality research evidence suggests that, on average, patients with plantar heel pain tend to have a 50-60% improvement in symptoms after 6 months of treatment. A quick fix may occasionally provide short term relief but often doesn’t address the key issues that are associated with the condition. Stick to the core approach to plantar heel pain and allow your body to heal your heel!
Can I still exercise?
A common question to a health professional is “Can I still exercise” and “How much can I exercise”? Our advice is to keep exercising providing it is not aggravating your symptoms. You may need to modify the amount of time on your feet and impact activities such as running and jumping. If needed, a health professional can provide guidance about the amount and intensity of your exercise, and how to monitor signs that you might be pushing it too much.
For people with persistent plantar heel pain (i.e. >3 months) it is important that activity is not avoided as avoiding activity can actually increase your pain! If you have been advised to modify your level of activity, find another form of activity that you enjoy and doesn’t worsen your heel pain (e.g. swimming, cycling, rowing). Alternative forms of exercise are great for your physical and mental health and will help reduce your pain!