Does it feel like there's a stone in your shoe whenever you walk? Does this sensation persist whether you're barefoot, wearing socks, or wearing shoes? Chances are, you're suffering from a condition known as a fat pad contusion – otherwise known as a bruised heel. Here's a closer look at this condition and what you should do about it.
What causes a bruised heel?
The major bone that forms the bottom of your heel is called the calcaneus. Because it bears much of your weight, the calcaneus is well padded with a layer of fat. When you push on the "squishy" part of the bottom of your heel, you're pressing on this fat pad. Now, this fat pad is quite tough, but if you step on something small and hard, it sometimes gets pushed too firmly between your calcaneus and the hard item, leading to bruising. You probably stepped on a stone, small toy, or another hard item. You may not have even realized you did this at the time since heel bruise pain can arise a few hours or a day after the initial injury.
If you push on any bruise, it's usually painful. Since the bruise is located on the bottom of your foot, you essentially "push on it" really hard each time you step. Not only does this lead to pain, but because the bruised tissue tends to swell and harden, it feels like you're stepping on a stone.
How can you ease the pain of the injury?
Like any bruise, your bruised heel should get better on its own within a week or so. In the meantime, spend less time on your feet. You may want to put a gel pad in your shoe to make it more comfortable. You can try applying ice to the bottom of your foot to reduce the swelling; this should, in turn, reduce the sensation of stepping on something.
What if the pain does not go away?
It's quite rare for someone to fracture their calcaneus. However, if you have pain and sensations that resemble those of a heel bruise but the pain does not go away within a week or so, there's a chance your problems are due to a heel fracture. Visit your podiatrist for a diagnosis. If you do have a fractured heel, you'll likely be put in a walking boot and told to avoid walking and running for a month or two. For more information, contact local professionals like Hartford Podiatry Group.