Question for Dr. Leia: I have had a heel problem for a couple of months since summer wearing flat slip-ons.
Now my heels hurt like they are on fire. I feel it must be some type of inflammation.
I’ve tried reflexology treatments, soaking my feet, and foot creams. Might you know the possible cause or reason for such a strange foot ailment?
Dr. Leia’s Answer: What you are describing could be a condition called plantar fascitis. Plantar fascitis is a common condition which involves the inflammation of the plantar fascia or the tendons located at the bottom of the foot which connect the heel bone to the toes.
Sometimes the pain is worse in the mornings when getting out of bed or after sitting for long periods of time, then standing up on your feet. This pain occurs because the tendon tightens up during the night or during periods of inactivity.
Causes of Tendon Inflammation
There are many causes that can lead to tendon inflammation which could include:
- Improper shoes with poor arch supports or inflexible soles
- Physical overactivity from excessive walking
- Physical overactivity from jogging or climbing
- Inflammation of the tendons from arthritis
- Flat feet or high arches
- Diabetes related
- Middle age
- Obesity or overweight
- Occupations which require excess standing or walking on hard surfaces
Foot Massage Tools
I recommend that patients get a small wooden footsie roller and use this tool daily by gently rolling the foot over the top of the roller, thereby giving a good massage to the sole of the foot.
Another solution which works well to loosen the tight fascia is to obtain a pair of sandals with nobs on the footbed. These raised nobs cause a gentle massage to the tendons and should be used slowly at first to condition the feet to the pressure. Have the sandals close to your bed in the morning and slowly step into the sandals. After a few weeks of wearing these massage sandals around the house, the feet will begin to feel better. Go slowly at first, wearing the sandals for 5 to 10 minutes each day to condition the feet to these new massage sandals. Eventually, you will be able to comfortably wear the sandals for longer periods of time.
Other solutions would be to lose weight if you are overweight, get better shoes with arch supports, apply ice after too much physical activity and elevate the feet. Acupressure, acupuncture, and stretching and massaging your arches also can be helpful to increase the circulation and decrease the inflammation and swelling.
If the pain persists after any or all of the above solutions, then you might want to visit a podiatrist or doctor to see if there are any other more serious causes for the pain.