Pain in my heel: Could orthotic insoles help?

Foot pain can be debilitating and stop us from doing the activities we love. One common cause of foot pain is a condition called plantar fasciitis, which causes pain in the heel or arch of the foot. The pain is typically worse first thing in the morning or following a period of time being seated. This condition affects millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on daily life.

Thankfully, there are various treatments available here at Waverley Clinic, including orthotic insoles, which can provide relief and help manage the pain. Heel pain relief insoles are particularly effective in reducing foot impact and alleviating overall pain.

In this article, we’ll explore what orthotic insoles are and how they can help with heel pain.

What causes pain in the heel of the foot?

There are various factors that can contribute to heel pain, including overuse, injury, and underlying medical conditions. The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the tissue (plantar fasciia) that connects your heel bone to your toes becomes inflamed or irritated.

Some other causes of heel pain may include:

  • Heel spurs: heel spurs are bony growths that form on the heel bone. Heel spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis and can exacerbate the pain.
  • Achilles tendonitis: inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The Achilles tendon can become irritated and painful due to overuse or injury.
  • Bursitis: inflammation of the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) near your joints.
  • Arthritis: inflammation in the joints, which can affect the heel bone.
  • Stress fractures: small cracks in the bones of your foot or heel.
  • Nerve irritation: when a nerve in your foot becomes compressed or irritated.
  • Fat pad atrophy: a condition where the fat pad under the heel is damaged due to too much strain, especially in women who wear high heels frequently.

If you are experiencing persistent heel pain, it is essential to see a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment plan. They will be able to determine the underlying cause of your pain and recommend the most effective course of action.

How do you relieve a sharp pain in the heel?

There are various ways to relieve heel pain, depending on the underlying cause. Some common methods include:

  • Resting and avoiding activities that aggravate the pain.
  • Applying ice or heat packs to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as paracetamol with GP of pharmacy advice.
  • Calf stretching exercises to improve flexibility and reduce contracture of the calf muscles.
  • Klaser Therapy to enables the patient’s immune system to repair the damaged musculature.
  • Wearing supportive shoes with good arch support.

Here at Waverley Clinic, we offer a comprehensive array of foot pain treatments, including solutions for acute heel, Achilles tendon, forefoot, ankle, and arch pain. Our bespoke treatment plans are meticulously designed to help you combat heel pain swiftly and effectively.

How to care for heel pain

Aside from seeking medical treatment and using orthotic insoles, there are a few things you can do at home to care for heel pain. These include:

  • Wear comfortable shoes with proper arch support.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight reduces pressure on the feet.
  • Doing regular stretching exercises that target the foot and calf muscles.
  • Avoiding high-intensity activities that put excessive strain on the feet.
  • Klaser Therapy.

By following these tips into your treatment plan, you can effectively manage and reduce heel pain.

What is the best support for a sore heel?

Orthotic insoles can also help correct any underlying biomechanical issues that may be contributing to the pain. The plantar fascia is the muscular structure supporting the arch, linked to heel pain. Sometimes treatments such as calf stretching isn’t enough to resolve the problem and an orthotic insole is needed to support the arch.

Specialised orthtoic insoles are designed to provide the specific support and foot posture alignment changes needed to allow the musculature to recover and return to being pain free. 

There are various types of orthotic insoles available, including over-the-counter options and custom-made insoles. 

However, for more severe or persistent pain, we recommend consulting a podiatrist who can create custom-made orthotic insoles tailored to your specific foot anatomy, shape and clinical requirements to resolve the pain. These insoles offer a more precise and effective solution for managing heel and most types of foot painful conditions.

What are orthotic insoles?

Orthotic insoles, also known as orthotics or shoe inserts, are medical devices designed to support and align the foot. They can be used to treat a wide range of foot conditions, including plantar fasciitis and other biomechanical issues such as bunion pain, shin splits, back pain, arch pain, flat feet, knee and hip pain, high arches.

These insoles come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different foot shapes and types of footwear. They can be made from various materials, including foam, gel, or plastic, and can provide cushioning and support in specific areas of the foot.

At Waverley Clinic, we provide custom-made orthotic insoles designed with state-of-the-art GaitScan technology. The scan provides a 3D image of the feet walking and standing to diagnose the cause of the problems and allow orthotic insole prescription design. This 3D scan of your foot shape ensures a perfect, comfortable fit and effectively addresses any specific issues related to your foot posture.

What are the best heel pain relief insoles for sore heels?

The best shoe insoles for sore heels will vary depending on the underlying cause of the pain. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, to determine the most suitable type of insole for your specific needs. Some common types of insoles that may help with heel pain include:

  • Orthotic insoles: These custom-made specialist insoles are specifically designed to reduce pressure and address any underlying biomechanical issues contributing to heel pain, offering a tailored and effective solution for managing discomfort.
  • Arch support insoles: these can provide additional cushioning and shock absorption support for individuals with high arches or flat feet/fallen arches, helping to alleviate pressure on the heel.
  • Cushioning insoles: these are designed to provide extra padding and shock absorption, which can be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as plantar fasciitis.

What can I expect when being examined for orthotic insoles?

If you’re experiencing heel pain and are considering orthotic insoles, the podiatrist at Waverley Clinic will perform a comprehensive Biomechanical Assessment examination to determine the optimal treatment plan. This may include:

  • Taking a medical history and discussing any previous foot issues or injuries.
  • Examination of the lower limb, feet and gait looking for signs of biomechanical abnormalities or other contributing factors to heel pain.
  • Using GaitScan technology to analyse your foot posture and gait pattern provides valuable insights for creating custom insoles.
  • Discuss any lifestyle factors or activities that may contribute to heel pain.                                              
  • Looking at the patients lifestyle to ensure the orthotic insole material is suitable for their activity e.g Flexing /high impact material orthotics for a runner.                                                                             
  • Looking at the patient’s shoe choice to ensure the orthotic insole chosen will fit into the patient’s shoes.

Based on the findings from this examination, our podiatrist will recommend the most suitable type of orthotic insole with a personalised treatment plan to manage your heel pain effectively.

GaitScan technology

As mentioned earlier, GaitScan technology is a state-of-the-art tool that we use here at Waverley Clinic to analyse foot posture and gait patterns. This advanced system utilises pressure plate sensors to create a 3D image of your feet while walking, providing valuable insights into how your feet function and any potential issues.

By using GaitScan technology, our podiatrist can accurately assess any biomechanical abnormalities, determine the root cause of your heel pain, and create custom-made orthotic insoles that absorb stress-inducing shock and address your specific needs. This advanced technology allows for a more precise and effective treatment approach, resulting in better outcomes for our patients and successful pain resolution.

Heel pain FAQs

How common is heel pain?

Heel pain is a prevalent foot condition, affecting around 10% of the population. It can occur in individuals of all ages and activity levels.

Is heel pain the same as Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a specific condition that causes pain in the heel and arch of the foot due to inflammation of the plantar fascia (a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes). Heel pain may also be due to a fracture of the heel spur, for example, which an X-ray via your GP may help diagnose.

Do insoles fit into my shoes?

This is very important as what’s the point of orthotic insoles if you can’t use  them. At Waverley Clinic the orthotic insoles choice is wide and specifically designed to ensure fitting into the patients shoes. We always advise patients who attend a Biomechanical Assessment & GaitScan to bring a selection of their shoes to enable the correct choice and sizing of the orthotic insole selection.

When should you be concerned about a sharp pain in the heel?

If you experience a sharp pain in the heel and that pain persists for more than a few days or interferes with your daily activities, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional. It could be a sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment, and early intervention can prevent the pain from worsening.

How do you identify heel bursitis?

Heel bursitis is a condition where the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between bones and tendons) in the heel becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. It can often be mistaken for plantar fasciitis due to similar symptoms. However, there are some differences that can help identify this condition, such as:

  • Pain at the back of the heel rather than under the heel
  • Tenderness and swelling at the back of the heel
  • Pain that worsens with movement, especially when standing on tiptoes

If you suspect you have heel bursitis, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional/GP/Podiatrst for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Final thoughts: for more information about orthotic insoles, contact Waverley Clinic today!

If you’re struggling with heel pain, don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. The team at Waverley Clinic is here to help alleviate your discomfort and get you back on your feet comfortably. Contact us today on 01252 716611 for more information about orthotic insoles or to schedule an appointment with our experienced podiatrist Jonathan Kirk.

Our goal is to provide comprehensive and personalised care for all of our patients, helping them achieve optimal foot health and function. Don’t let heel pain hold you back – let us help you take the first step towards a pain-free life!

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Picture of Jonathan Kirk - Lead Chiropodist / Podiatrist and Practice Owner | MChS BSc (Hons)

Jonathan Kirk - Lead Chiropodist / Podiatrist and Practice Owner | MChS BSc (Hons)

Mr Jonathan Kirk is the proud owner and manager of Waverley Clinic. With a diverse background in healthcare, he first embarked on his professional journey as a Registered General Nurse. Subsequently, he carved out a successful career in the UK medical industry, excelling in sales and senior management roles. As his passion for podiatry grew stronger, Jonathan made the decision to further his education as a mature student, pursuing a BSc (Hons) degree in podiatry. Now, he resides in Farnham, utilising his extensive clinical and podiatric expertise to benefit his patients.

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