If you’re reading this article, you’re probably dealing with heel pain and want to know how you can treat it.
This article will help you discover if a chiropractor will be able to assist you and ease pain from heel spurs or plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Heel Pain?
According to the Mayo Clinic, typically heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis, which is at the bottom of the heel, and Achilles tendonitis, which is at the back of the heel. Heel spurs can also be a common cause of heel pain.
As the name implies, heel spurs are calcium deposits that grow out from your heel bone although you may not be able to see them. Unlike plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs don’t suddenly appear. They happen when you haven’t dealt with heel pain.
Due to excessive strain, the heel bone becomes stressed, which leads to spurs. This can occur from wearing poorly fitting shoes or worn out shoes, suffering from arthritis or bruising of the heel, or even wearing flip flops too much.
When you’ve put too much pressure on your feet, you can damage the plantar fascia ligament, which can lead to stiffness and pain in your heels. A lot of people—especially runners—who subject their feet to a lot of wear and tear deal with plantar fasciitis.
Often the pain is at the bottom of the heel, but it can even extend to the bottom of the midfoot area. Pain tends to be most common when you’ve just gotten out of bed or after you’ve been sitting down for a while.
A couple groups of people are at higher risk for plantar fasciitis. If you’re middle-aged and active (especially if you’re a female), you are more likely to deal with plantar fasciitis. You also are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you are pregnant or overweight or obese.
Finally, if you have high arches or flat feet, you may be more likely to develop plantar fasciitis, especially if you are also a long-distance runner or work at a job that requires you to be on your feet.
When the tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the heel (the Achilles tendon) is overused, you can experience pain and inflammation in your heels. The Achilles tendon is used when you jump, run, and walk as well as when you stand on your feet.
Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by repeated exercise, which is likely to happen for runners who regularly pound the pavement. But if you’re dealing with rheumatoid arthritis or an infection, you may be at a greater risk for Achilles tendonitis.
Beyond excessive exercise, you may also be at risk for Achilles tendonitis if you don’t warm up properly, suddenly increase your physical activity, wear shoes that don’t fit right, or wear high heels on a regular basis.
What are Common Heel Pain Treatments?
Most of the time heel pain can be treated at home with some of these treatments. If you can’t wait or have extremely severe pain, you will want to call a doctor immediately, but most of the time, you can try home remedies for two to three weeks.
Rest and Ice
First, you should take time to rest your heel, foot, and leg. Even if you are an active person and want to get out and go for a run, your body needs time to recover and heal. Take some over-the-counter pain meds and turn on your favorite TV show.
You also will want to ice your heel for between 10-15 minutes two times a day. Put yourself on a schedule so you don’t forget. Maybe it’s right when you get up and right before you go to bed or during the mid-morning and then the mid-afternoon. Pick what works for you.
Shoes or Inserts
If rest and icing don’t seem to be working, then changing your shoes or getting inserts may help. Getting shoes for heel spurs that provide more support—especially if you’re an athlete—can ensure that you aren’t putting as much pressure on your heel.
You’ll also want to forego high heels and flip-flops if possible and only wear shoes with support. If most of your shoes lack support, getting over-the-counter inserts for heel spurs or even custom orthotics can help to reduce the pain.
You can even use Kinesiology Tape to help relieve heel pain, which can give you more support, decrease pressure, and may assist you in returning to walking and running quickly. Make sure that you are able to use tape and that your heel pain will work with tape.
Studies have shown that tape works for some people while it’s not beneficial for others, so you’ll definitely want to speak with a medical professional to determine if K-Tape is a good option for you.
If you want a solution that won’t require you to do anything different during the day, you might consider purchasing a night splint, a special device that gently stretches your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
Night splints will help keep your leg at a neutral angle and will help prevent microtrauma at the plantar fascia, making your first steps out of bed in the morning more comfortable.
Can a Chiropractor Help?
While going to the chiropractor does not have to be your first step if you’re dealing with heel pain, it could help if common treatments like those listed above don’t work. Chiropractors can help treat underlying causes of heel pain, rather than fixing the problem itself.
For example, chiropractors can help with adjusting your posture and joints, balancing weight across both feet which will reduce stress on the affected foot, and make you feel better overall and more likely to exercise and lose weight.
If you already have a chiropractor that you like and/or go to one regularly, you might consider talking to him or her about your pain and seeing if he or she can help before purchasing a night splint or inserts.
A visit to the chiropractor will cost you money that you don’t need to spend if just simply resting your heel will work, but may be worth it to you rather than getting inserts if you really like going to the chiropractor.
If you don’t have a chiropractor, try all of the other options first before looking into chiropractors. If all else fails, a visit to the chiropractor will do the trick.
As one example, a case study found that a pediatric patient suffering from plantar fasciitis improved after chiropractic treatment, soft tissue therapy, and exercise and stretching therapies.
Dealing with heel pain is uncomfortable because you have to use your feet to get around, and it’s important to treat it right away so that it doesn’t get worse.
While most people can successfully treat heel pain with treatments at home, you might want to consider going to a chiropractor if things haven’t gotten better or if you suspect that your bones are out of whack and getting them adjusted will help.
So, yes, a chiropractor can help with heel pain or plantar fasciitis, but going to one doesn’t have to be your first course of action.