How you can ease heel pain yourself
There are some things you can try to help ease heel pain.
- taking ibuprofen or paracetamol
- putting an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) in a towel under the heel for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours
- wearing shoes with a medium heel (2 to 3cm) – both men and women
- doing gentle stretching exercises
- trying heel pads
- avoiding putting weight on the foot – avoiding walking or standing for long periods
- avoiding going barefoot or wear flat shoes
When to see your GP
You should see your GP if:
- you see no improvement after treating at home
- the pain gets worse
- you're finding it difficult to walk
At your appointment your GP will examine you to try to find out what's causing your heel pain.
Most heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis. This is when the ligament that runs from under the heel along the sole of the foot becomes swollen over time.
Referral to a foot specialist
Your GP might refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist or chiropodist) or a physiotherapist. They can recommend things like exercises and the right shoes to wear.
When to go to a minor injuries unit or emergency department
Go to a minor injuries unit if your symptoms appear mild. Go to an emergency department if you have:
- severe pain after an injury
- your foot is a funny shape
- a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of injury
- difficulty moving your ankle or foot
These could be signs of a broken bone or ruptured Achilles tendon.
Common causes of heel pain
Your symptoms might give you an idea of what's causing your heel pain. The information below may help you but don’t rely on it for a diagnosis – see a GP if you are concerned about your symptoms.
Below are health conditions that are linked to some common causes of heel pain.
- plantar fasciitis – can lead to very bad pain taking first steps after waking or after period of not moving, and difficulty raising toes off the floor
- Achilles tendonitis – can lead to tenderness and pain at back of heel and along Achilles tendon, and pain in calf when standing on tiptoes
- heel fracture – can lead to swelling, feels hot, pain on squeezing heel bone, hurts to walk and you've had an injury
- bursitis – can lead to pain at back of heel (can raise toes without pain)
- peripheral neuropathy or tarsal tunnel syndrome – can lead to numbness or tingling in foot when moving or resting
- arthritis – can lead to stiff, swollen heel, and difficulty in moving your foot