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Heel Pain

Some questions answered

What causes pain in the heel?

Pain in the heel can be caused by many things. The commonest cause is plantar fascitis (which will be discussed more in the next section). Other causes include:

  • being overweight
  • constantly being on your feet, especially on a hard surface like concrete and wearing hard-soled footwear
  • thinning or weakness of the fat pads of the heel
  • injury to the bones or padding of the heel
  • arthritis in the ankle or heel (subtalar) joint
  • irritation of the nerves on the inner or outer sides of the heel
  • fracture of the heel bone (calcaneum)

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What is plantar fascitis?

The function of the heel in walking is to absorb the shock of your foot striking the ground as it is put down and to start springing you forward on the next step. It contains a strong bone (the calcaneum). Under the bone are a large number of small pockets of fat in strong elastic linings, which absorb much of the shock (fat pads). The heel is attached to the front of the foot by a number of strong ligaments which run between the front part of the calcaneum and various other parts of the foot. The strongest ligament is the plantar fascia, which attaches the heel to the toes and helps to balance the various parts of the foot as you walk. It therefore takes a lot of stress as you walk.

In some people the plantar fascia becomes painful and inflamed. This usually happens where it is attached to the heel bone, although sometimes it happens in the mid-part of the foot. This condition is called plantar fasciitis. There are a number of common causes:

  • usually it is due simply to constant stress, and is therefore commoner in people who spend all day on their feet or are overweight.
  • stiffness of the ankle or tightness of the Achilles tendon increase the stresses on the heel. Most people with plantar fascitis have a rather tight Achilles tendon.
  • people who have high-arched ("cavus") feet or flat feet are less able to absorb the stress of walking and are at risk of plantar fascitis
  • sometimes it starts after an injury to the heel.
  • people who have a rheumatic condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis may get inflammation anywhere a ligament is attached to bone (enthesopathy), and plantar fascitis in these people is part of their general condition.
  • Usually plantar fascitis eventually gets better itself, but this can take months or even years. If you have it once you are more likely to get it again.

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I've been told my pain is caused by a bone spur. Is this likely?

Near the inflamed plantar fascia attachment, but not in it, some extra bone may form, producing a small "spur". In fact, it is a shelf of bone, not a sharp spur. These "heel spurs" are commoner in people with plantar fascitis, but they can be found in people with no heel pain. The heel spur is caused by the same process as the heel pain, but the spur is not itself the cause of the pain.

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Can I do anything about heel pain myself?

You can try to avoid the things that cause heel pain to start:

  • avoid becoming overweight
  • where your job allows, minimise the shock to your feet from constant pounding on hard surfaces
  • reduce the shocks on your heel by choosing footwear with some padding or shock-absorbing material in the heel
  • if you have high-arched feet or flat feet a moulded insole in your shoe may reduce the stresses on your feet
  • if you have an injury to your ankle or foot, make sure you exercise afterwards to get back as much movement as possible to reduce the stresses on your foot and your heel in particular
  • If you start to get heel pain, doing the above things may enable the natural healing process to get underway and the pain to improve

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When should I take professional advice?

If your heel pain is affecting your normal activities and not getting better with simple self-treatment you may wish to consult your GP. (You may prefer to put up with it, knowing it will probably get better eventually.)

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How will my doctor tell what is wrong?

Your doctor will listen to your complaints about your heel and examine you to see what is causing the pain, and whether anything else has started it off. If the cause of your pain seems obvious, your doctor may be happy to start treatment straight away.

However, some tests may be helpful in ruling out other problems. Blood tests may be done for arthritis. An Xray will show any arthritis in the ankle or subtalar joint, as well as any fracture or cyst in the calcaneum. (It will also show a spur if you have one, but as we know this is not the cause of the pain.) Occasionally a scan may be used to help spot arthritis or a stress fracture.

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What can be done about heel pain?

As heel pain is basically a stress problem in the tissues of the heel, the main treatment is to reduce stress.

  • your doctor will advise you about weight loss and appropriate footwear.
  • a soft heel pad is useful to wear in your shoe to act as a shock-absorber when you walk.
  • if you have a stiff ankle or tight Achilles tendon a physiotherapist can advise on exercises for these. Stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia is very effective general treatment for many patients.
  • if you have a high-arched or flat foot, a podiatrist may advise an insole to reduce stress.
  • simple pain-killers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines can help reduce the pain. Ask advice from your doctor or pharmacist before taking anti-inflammatory medicines as they can have troublesome side-effects in some people.

The simple measures above will help the majority of people with heel pain. If the pain continues, a splint to wear on your ankle at night to prevent your Achilles tendon tightening up while you are asleep is often very effective in improving the severe pain that many people get first thing in the morning and breaking the cycle of pain. Your GP or an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon or rheumatologist may inject some steroid into the attachment of the plantar fascia to damp down the inflammation. These measures will reduce the pain in most people who are not helped by simple treatment.

If you still have pain after one or two injections, your doctor may want to investigate your problem a bit further. If no other medical problem or cause of stress in your heel is found, a number of other treatments can be tried: 

  • further physiotherapy
  • wearing a plaster cast to rest the inflamed tissues
  • pain control treatments such as transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS) or acupuncture
  • Only if all non-surgical treatments fail would an operation be considered.

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Do I need an operation?

It is rare to need an operation for heel pain. It would only be offered if all simpler treatments have failed and, in particular, you are a reasonable weight for your height and the stresses on your heel cannot be improved by modifying your activities or footwear.

The aim of an operation is to release part of the plantar fascia from the heel bone and reduce the tension in it. Many surgeons would also explore and free the small nerves on the inner side of your heel as these are sometimes trapped by bands of tight tissue. This sort of surgery can be done through a cut about 3cm long on the inner side of your heel. Recently there has been a lot of interest in doing the operation by keyhole surgery, but this has not yet been proven to be effective and safe. Most people who have an operation are better afterwards, but it can take months to get the benefit of the operation and the wound can take a while to heal fully. Tingling or numbness on the side of the heel may occur after operation.

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Wouldn't it be better to take out my heel spur?

As you will have seen from reading the section above "I've been told my pain is caused by a bone spur", the pain is not caused by the spur. Rather, both the pain and the spur are caused by inflammation in the plantar fascia. Simple removal of the spur has been known to be ineffective in relieving the pain since the 1960s.

However, if you are one of the rare people who do not respond to simple treatment and end up having an operation to release the plantar fascia, the surgeon may also remove any bone spur at the same time.

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Best CBD Oil UK: The 9 top CBD brands in the UK (2020)

CBD products are making a lot of noise in the market, and it makes complete sense judging by the slew of health benefits that they bring. We’ve gathered the best CBD oils currently available in the UK market to help you narrow down your search.

What is CBD?

CBD or Cannabidiol is a chemical compound extracted from the cannabis plant. We know what you’re thinking. How is this any different from marijuana? The answer is in their THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content. Weed contains a lot of THC, which is a psychoactive compound that gives the user mind-altering effects. CBD, on the other hand, cannot get you “high.” CBD is widely used for its pain relieving properties. It can be used to minimize the symptoms of conditions like epilepsy, anxiety, diabetes, cancers, among others. 

Whether you have crippling anxiety or you have been dealing with chronic pain for a long time, CBD oil can offer you some relief. With plenty of scientific research emerging to back up anecdotal claims, the UK CBD market shows no signs of slowing down. CBD is 100% legal in the UK as long as its sold as a food supplement and contains less than 0.2% THC content.

If you’re ready to jump on this very promising train, take a look at the best CBD oils in the UK that we’ve tried and recommend. 

The UK's 9 Best CBD Brands (2020 Updated)

1. Blessed CBD

If you don’t want to muck around, the first CBD oil you should try should be the UK’s number one CBD oil brand. Blessed CBD is a family-run operation in the UK. It’s their goal to provide their customers with the very best CBD products, and it’s safe to say that they have been succeeding in the United Kingdom.

Their hemp extracts come in a 10ml bottle and in full-spectrum form, meaning they’re rich in all cannabinoids (CBD, CBDA, CBG, etc) and terpenes. Unlike broad-spectrum oils, full-spectrum CBD oils are extremely effective in relieving pain and inflammation (due to the entourage effect). It’s also worth noting that the hemp plants used in their products are 100% vegan and organically grown. 

cbd oil

What we love about Blessed CBD is their commitment to educating the UK public about CBD. They cater specifically to the UK market, as their products are not available elsewhere else. All their products come with an informational booklet to get you started and customer reviews are majorly positive.

They were also voted the #1 CBD oil UK by leading publications, such as Mirror, Observer, HerbMighty, Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail, LA Weekly, Readers Digest, Glasgow Live, Improb and Luxury Lifestyle Mag.

Plus, each batch of oil they produce comes with its own certificate and third party lab reports, so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body and the amount of CBD in each product. 

If you're looking to truly experience the benefits of CBD, give Blessed CBD a try.

For more information, visit BlessedCBD.co.uk.

2. Bud & Tender CBD

Bud & Tender is a British company that’s relatively fresh in the market. However, they’re getting quite the praise because they produce some decent CBD oils. 

A premium CBD oil (with a premium price), it’s a bit more palatable than your average CBD tincture. It has a distinct floral note, which makes it easier to swallow. Using a CO2 extraction process/technique, all their oils are guaranteed to be of the purest quality. 

They only use non-GMO, organic hemp so you’ll know that what you’re getting is an all-natural remedy. If you want to find out more about their products, they’re very transparent about what’s in them. Comprehensive lab results are regularly published on their website. 

3. Jacob Hooy CBD

If you like to frequent Holland & Barrett on the high street, you might have come across this hemp CBD oil from Jacob Hooy. Because it’s so affordable, it’s a viable choice if you’re taking the first steps of your CBD journey. It’s not the most potent oil in the CBD industry, so it's important to have realistic expectations.

It’s also not the most palatable, but you can always wash it down with a generous drink of water. Overall, it’s a reliable starter CBD oil for those who don’t need higher potencies just yet. 

4. Hempura CBD

Hempura is an up-and-coming brand that offers a wide range of quality CBD oil products. Aside from oils, they have edibles, e-juices (for vaping devices/vape pens), and capsules. Even though it’s not full-spectrum, the oil contains a decent amount of cannabinoids. It’s by no means ineffective. 

They also use the CO2 extraction method, which is considered the most efficient and safest technique of getting CBD out of hemp plants. We also love Hempura’s packaging, which is important to some folks. 

Hempura is also part of the Cannabis Trades Association, which shows their commitment to creating high-quality products for their customers.

5. Endoca Raw CBD

Endoca Raw is the CBD oil of choice of those who want make more environmentally sound choices. Endoca Raw’s operations all happen in Northern Europe. It’s worth noting that they use supercritical CO2 extraction, which is the best way to isolate cannabinoids and flavonoids.

The growing process of the hemp crops used in their products all pass strict regulations. They’re non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, pesticide-free, herbicide-free, and 100% natural. 

Their range of products include CBD tinctures, CBD capsules, gummies, CBD vapes, CBD e-liquid and skincare options.

6. Medterra CBD

Medterra dominates the worldwide CBD oil products market (especially in the USA) and they have only just made their products available for UK residents. Their oils comes in 500mg to 3000mg potencies, so you have a decent range to choose from depending on the symptoms that are ailing you. 

Best CBD Oil UK: The 9 top CBD brands in the UK (2020) Best CBD Oil UK: The 9 top CBD brands in the UK (2020)

Best CBD Oil UK: The 9 top CBD brands in the UK (2020)

One thing that we love about the Medterra's CBD range is its tastelessness. It doesn’t smell like anything either, making it extremely easy to consume. Plus, the dropper cap of this product has marked measurements, so you can measure out your dose every time you take it. 

7. Holistic Herb CBD

If you’re a stickler for quality and always want to go for the premium, look no further than Holistic Herb. They offer strong straightforward potencies of CBD, at 4.2% or 8.2%. If you think you’re going to need higher doses to treat your ailments, then by all means go for this oil. Just so you know, it’s very hard to overdose on CBD oil anyway. You would have to consume gallons of it for it to become detrimental. 

Every batch of their CBD oil sprays are so pure and contain no amount of THC whatsoever. You’re guaranteed to get only the holistic goodness of the crop and not its psychoactive side effects. Since it’s a premium product, it’s the most expensive one on this list, but it’s never really a bad idea to splurge on quality. 

8. NeoHemp

Hemp oil is not exactly the same as CBD oil, but it’s a good place to start if you’re on the fence about using pure CBD. Hemp oil is considered a superfood because of its high amount of fatty acids and bioactive compounds. Unlike CBD oil, Hemp oil is extracted particularly from the crop’s seeds and nowhere else. 

With a 4000mg potency, you can take this oil as is or mix it in with your creams and serums. It’s more affordable than the other picks on this list, but it is also slightly less potent. 

9. Health Hemp Holland

This is another hemp oil. As mentioned above, hemp oils are not to be confused with CBD oils. It’s extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, while CBD oil is extracted from the leaves, flowers, and steams. 

Hemp oils are mainly used to treat skin problems like acne and visible signs of aging. A lot of folks combine them with their sunscreens and moisturizers to get evenly toned clear skin. Hemp has anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce the appearance of spots. 

This is also a great starter oil for those who only looking to get their feet wet in the wonderful pool of CBD products. 

CBD oil UK: final thoughts and takeaway

There you have it, our top picks for the best CBD oils to buy in the UK.

As a friendly reminder, its best to work your way up if you’re unsure about dosing. Start with a lower potencies and check if it relieves your symptoms. There is some trial and error involved in this. But when you find that sweet spot, you’ll soon realize that CBD oils may work wonders on your physical and mental health.

If you're looking for the best and most reliable CBD oils and CBD creams in the UK, look no further than Blessed CBD.


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