Diabetes and Heel Pain
The fact that diabetes causes and contributes to serious foot issues has been well-established within the medical field. When people talk about diabetes in conjunction with foot health, the two big issues frequently discussed are Charcot foot and diabetic foot ulcers. Given the serious nature of these conditions, the attention is certainly warranted.
That said, it can be a mistake to look past heel pain and how it relates to diabetes!
Understanding the connection between diabetes and heel pain—and other foot conditions related to the disease—can be beneficial in helping you to mitigate and prevent damage to your lower limbs. In turn, this can be useful in allowing you to stay active – while at the same time minimizing pain and lowering your risk for complications.
The complete picture of the link between diabetes and heel pain is still being researched within the medical community, but we are at point where numerous studies have established a connection between the two medical issues.
One of the common agreements amongst experts in the field is the role weight plays in how heel pain and diabetes are linked.
An overwhelming majority of diabetic individuals—almost 90% by some counts—are overweight for their respective body structures. Excess weight is a well-known risk for heel pain, and especially plantar fasciitis (which is already the most common source of heel pain for adults).
The plantar fascia is an important connective tissue bridging the bottom of the heel to the bottom of the forefoot. The purpose of this flexible tissue is to assist in supporting the foot arch. Under ideal circumstances, the fascia allows your foot to absorb and distribute the force loads that come naturally during activities like walking, running, and jumping.
Excessive weight creates additional strain on this invaluable tissue. This additional strain then contributes to tears, inflammation, and sometimes even the develop of heel spurs (built-up calcium deposits that cause pain by irritate soft tissues).
In order to avoid issues and protect your feet from this common source of heel pain, you need to take special care.
Fortunately, the conservative care nondiabetic individuals use to treat and relieve heel pain can often be effective for those who have diabetes. These include:
- Weight loss. This is a natural, healthy way to ease the amount of strain placed on your foot and ankle, including the plantar fascia. Of course, it is important to lose weight and then manage it in a safe manner. Whether your primary care physician or our office, make sure you consult with medical professionals before beginning any exercise or weight-loss program!
- Stretching. Heel pain can be caused by a fractured heel bone (calcaneus), but is more often attributed to the soft tissues anchored to the bone – the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Accordingly, one of the best ways to treat and prevent heel pain is with a proper stretching regimen. Even better for diabetic individuals, stretching has been shown to make a positive difference in controlling blood glucose levels.
- Rest and ice. These are both easy, effective methods of home care for plantar fasciitis. Each serves to reduce inflammation and the time off your feet can give the injured plantar fascia an opportunity to heal small tears. That said, it is important to keep diabetic neuropathy and circulatory issues in mind when icing your feet! Do not place an ice pack on an open wound or sore and make sure you aren’t keeping the ice pack on a single location for too long (doing so can damage your skin). Ten (10) minutes is a pretty decent guideline for icing, but you should check with our office first.
- Orthotic therapy. Custom orthotics can provide additional arch support—which lessens the load for your plantar fascia and prevents excessive strain—while at the same time redistributing uneven force and stress on the foot as a whole.
This is a great starting point, but you can receive even more information when order your free copy of Stop Heel Pain: A Guide to Heel and Foot Health. There is seriously no cost and all you need to do is fill out the online form found here on our website. After doing so, we will send you an actual book—not an “e-book” or digital white paper—you can keep handy to reference if you start wondering why you are having foot pain.
It only takes a moment to fill out the form, so request your free copy right now!
If you have any questions or need to request an appointment for treatment, call Capital District Podiatry today at (518) 273-0053.