Each mile you walk places 60 tons of stress on each foot. It’s a heavy load, but your feet can handle it. Too much stress, though, can lead to a damaged, painful heel, the most common issue affecting the foot and ankle.
When you ignore the symptoms, the pain only gets worse. Eventually, it can turn into a chronic condition with additional symptoms.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, Dr. Elliott Perel and our expert team offer solutions for heel pain and a whole range of other podiatric problems. What many people don’t consider is how their weight affects their feet, so we’ve put together this guide to get you in the know.
The link between obesity and heel pain
Most of the time, heel pain results from a repetitive stress injury, such as with long-distance running, or from structural issues with the bones and soft tissues. The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is a tough ligament band that runs from the calcaneus (heel bone) to the toes. When you stretch the fascia too far, the fibers become inflamed, resulting in pain. You feel the pain most where the ligament attaches to the heel, but you can also experience it in the middle of the foot.
Who’s at risk? Active adults 40-70 years old are at the highest risk of developing the condition, especially if they’re runners or have jobs where they’re on their feet all day. In addition, high arches or flat feet can lead to plantar fasciitis, as can wearing shoes that don’t have enough arch support.
A big and sometimes overlooked risk group is people who are overweight or obese, as the additional weight stresses the ligament fibers until they become inflamed. Pregnant women, too, often develop plantar fasciitis because of the extra weight they’re carrying.
A 2004 study showed that body mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity, was the only variable significantly associated with disability from heel pain. Likewise, for non-athletic people, being overweight was strongly associated with chronic plantar heel pain. Unfortunately, there haven’t been enough studies to conclusively determine whether losing weight positively affects heel pain or not.
Dr. Perel’s first line of treatment is simple — rest, icing, braces, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If they’re not enough, he can inject a corticosteroid directly into the damaged ligament. Once you’re reasonably pain-free, a physical therapist can help you strengthen your lower leg muscles and stabilize your walk to prevent a recurrence of the condition.
Are you experiencing heel pain and live in the Monroe Township area of New Jersey? Your next stop should be Monroe Foot & Ankle Care. To get started, give our office a call at 732-521-6166, or book online with us today.