Heel pain

Plantar fasciitis

With the heel absorbing a huge amount of shock, pain can occur in the largest ligament known as the plantar fascia

What is plantar fasciitis?

Heel pain can be plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis. The heel absorbs a tremendous amount of shock from walking, running, or standing still for long periods. As such, damage can occur to the large ligament that stretches from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. This ligament, known as the plantar fascia and is actually made up of several ligaments, maintains the arch of the foot.

Heel pain, or plantar fasciitis, is usually worse first thing in the morning and after rest. For most people, the pain will ease with gentle activity. It's usually a deep aching sensation, but can also feel very sharp. It is normally felt either under the heel or on the inside of the heel by the arch area. Treatment can be surgical or non-surgical.

Need to know

  • What are the treatment options for plantal fasciitis? icon plus

    Surgery is rarely needed and is usually a release of the plantar fascia. This involves making a small cut at the junction between the heel and arch. The procedure can be done under a local or general anaesthetic. It should take around 30 minutes with the cut being closed using non-dissolvable stitches.

    Non-surgical treatment includes:

    • calf stretches
    • heel cushioning
    • moulded insoles
    • rest
    • ice massage
    • modifying work or activity
    • modifying footwear
    • night splints
    • pain killers or anti inflammatory tablets
    • steroid injections
    • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or ultrasound
    • acupuncture

    More about podiatry

  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will tell you how you should prepare for both surgical and non-surgical treatments.
  • After surgery icon plus

    If you have surgery for heel pain you must not put any weight on your foot for 3 weeks. This includes when standing, walking or driving. Your consultant will tell you when you can get back to your usual routine.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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