Do gel heel cups work?
Plantar fasciitis is caused from the excessive overuse or fatigue of the soft tissue on the bottom of the foot. Other forms of heel pain can be a bruised heel from fat pad atrophy or a short Achilles tendon. These causes of heel pain can be relieved some by the gel heel cups. If a bruised heel is the problems the gel heel cups help soften the blow to the heel from standing and walking, thereby allowing the foot to heal slowly over time. If plantar fasciitis is the problem then the gel heel cups soften the point of insertion on the fascia and provide lift which reduces the strain on the fascia and shortens the heel cord too. This will give symptomatic relief but stretches are essential to the overall healing process. If your heel pain is from bruising we commonly recommend a topical pain gel such as OrthoX pain cream applied several times a day plus icing helps as well. See the pictures below for detailed explanation of the difference in the topics.
This is a typical area of plantar fascial pain which is help by gel heel cups and stretching. A lot of people find the heel cups are not as effective as they would like and need a more robust option such as a night splint and air brace to aid their recovery.
Fat pad atrophy or bruised heel
The heel pain from fat pad atrophy or bruised heel is closer to the back of the heel than the plantar fasciitis is typically seen. This type of pain does well with gel heel cups due to the cushioning effects along with icing and topical pain cream. This type of pain can lead to plantar fasciitis because people will fatigue their foot from walking on it abnormally. Stretching is usually not required with this type of pain and does not generally help. Night splints do not help this pain either. Some people find the air brace works better for this pain due to the horseshoe shape of the bladder lifts the heel off of the ground reducing impact at the patient walks. Topical pain creams and icing are essential for recovery. Sometimes a walking boot is needed for this type of heel pain as well.