Dec 5, 2019
How to Deal with Winter Heel Pain Woes
Dr Cory Pilling. DPM
When winter comes, it brings a cold that asks us to settle in, and a blanket of snow that brings a muffled quiet. One could argue that winter is a good time for rest and contemplation of the year ahead.
Haha, just kidding.
We lead up to the official start of winter with a holiday rush that blows our socks off, then seem to spend the rest of the season recovering from it all. All that hustle and bustle can lead to a lot of stress; and if you have heel pain, a significant amount of that stress is likely going to be felt in that region.
Why can heel pain get worse during winter months, and what can you and we do to help find relief? Let’s start with the basics.
Why Does My Heel Pain Get Worse During Colder Months?
Now, not everyone feels an increase in pain and flare-ups during the winter. If you’re in this group, that’s great (but you can still take steps to help your heel pain further)! But if your discomfort does feel like it increases in winter, what gives?
There can be several reasons why wintertime can lead to increased or more frequent heel pain. They may include:
- The temperature change. Perhaps the most obvious or at least most considered possibility. A change in temperature has the potential for aggravating existing conditions. Stiffness and inflammation can increase, which really exacerbates problems like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.
- Changes in footwear. The lighter, often more open shoes of summer give way to heavier boots that can be more constrictive against feet. Women’s boots tend to favor heels as well, and if that is all you’re wearing when going outside, it can lead to more problems over time.
- Increase in weight. This is the one we tend to want to ignore the most, but it can have an effect. The potentials for increasing calorie intake and reducing exercise in the winter can lead to extra pounds. Even if it’s just a slight increase, it can still affect an existing problem. Just one extra pound of weight can add 4 pounds of extra pressure over the ankle and foot—and that’s with every step!
But even if wintry factors don’t make your heel pain worse, the truth still remains that you have heel pain! If you are not doing something about it, now’s the time to start.
How to Help Heel Pain Improve (or Eliminate It Fully)
There is no one absolute remedy for heel pain, because there is not just one cause of heel pain.
The key to any effective treatment is to determine just what is at the source of your problem. Do you have plantar fasciitis? If so, why? Is it a matter of your work environment? Weight? Foot structure? Workout routines? Without getting to the root, you may try treatments that aren’t as effective as they could be—or aren’t effective at all.
That said, there is nothing wrong with taking steps at home to try soothing your heel pain and improving your comfort. If they manage to completely relieve the problem, that’s great! But if they do not, don’t be convinced that you have a hopeless case. You most likely just haven’t found the right treatment or need something more advanced. We are more than happy to help you with that!
What are some good potential steps to take against heel pain in winter months?
- Give yourself properly fitting boots. An old pair of boots that are tight, worn out, and not providing much support can be murder on your heels. Find a pair of footwear that will get you through the winter months with warmth, light weight, and arch support that fits best with your needs. An experienced shoe store clerk can help you with these needs.
- Take time to move and massage. Shorter days can mean less movement, especially if you exit your desk job into dusk. Take a few minutes each hour, if possible, to get up, move, and stretch your heels and calf muscles. You can also massage your plantar fascia while working at your desk with the use of a foot roller.
- Try to minimize or reverse weight gain. Yeah, this one can be difficult. However, keeping extra weight off your feet means placing less pressure on your heels.
What Can We Do to Help Your Heel Pain?
Canyon Foot & Ankle has the experience and tools to not only identify a wide variety of heel pain causes, but treat them effectively—no matter the season.
Following a thorough physical evaluation and discussing with you how it affects your life, we can customize a treatment plan aimed at giving you optimal results that meet your specific needs.
In addition to traditional treatments such as rest, ice, stretching, and medications, we employ many advanced treatments when necessary. Such forms of treatment can include:
- Custom orthotics, for providing corrective influence and support for heel pain caused by abnormalities in foot structure.
- Laser therapy, for stimulating the body’s own natural responses for accelerated healing, pain relief, and reduction of inflammation.
- Shockwave therapy, which uses pressure waves to help relieve pain and assist recovery.
In some rare, specific cases, surgery might be considered as an option. However, we will always try more conservative options first if we believe they may provide the results you need.
Foot and Ankle Help for Any Season
Whether you are having trouble in winter, spring, summer, or fall, don’t let the clock continue to tick on pain and discomfort! The longer you take to properly address the source of a problem, the higher the chances of it becoming worse or long-lasting.
We’re here to help! Give us a call at either of our two offices to schedule an appointment:
Or, if you prefer to reach us electronically, our online contact form is always open.