The heel and its functions: an overview
The heel, located at the back of the foot, plays a vital role in supporting over 60% of body weight and mitigating the impact of movement. (Salmoirago-Blotcher et al., 2020). Composed of a complex system of interconnected bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, it works harmoniously to ensure stability and mobility.
One of the heel's essential functions is maintaining balance while standing or walking. Its unique shape and structure allow it to act as a remarkable shock absorber, shielding the foot and surrounding structures from impact forces.
The heel also contributes to propulsion, facilitating the push-off motion necessary for running or jumping (Wong & Libman, 2020). It serves as a lever, transferring energy from the calf muscles to the toes, and helps in forward movement.
When injured, the heel can significantly impact an individual's daily activities and overall quality of life. As such, conducting thorough assessments to diagnose potential issues is crucial.
Common heel injuries
Some of the most frequently encountered heel injuries include the following:
- Calcaneal stress fractures: Stress fractures in the heel bone, also known as calcaneal stress fractures, occur when repeated pressure and impact cause tiny cracks in the bone (Uher et al., 2004). This type of injury often affects athletes or individuals who engage in activities that strain their feet and ankles significantly.
- Plantar fascia injuries: The plantar fascia is a thick, soft tissue band connecting the heel bone to the toes. It is responsible for absorbing shock and supporting the arch of the foot. Injuries to this structure, such as plantar fasciitis, can cause significant heel pain and discomfort (Mayo Clinic, n.d.).
- Sever's disease: This condition primarily affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 who are active in sports. It is caused by repetitive stress on the growth plate of the heel bone, leading to inflammation and pain (Better Health Channel, n.d.).
- Achilles tendonitis: This is caused by overuse or intense strain on the Achilles tendon, the large tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling at the back of the heel.
- Bursitis: Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate joints. When the bursa at the back of the heel becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and swelling, a condition known as bursitis.
- Heel spurs: These bony growths on the underside of the heel bone can occur when the plantar fascia is excessively stretched or inflamed. Heel spurs can cause sharp pain, particularly when standing or walking.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome: This condition occurs when the posterior tibial nerve, which runs along the inside of the ankle and foot, becomes compressed. It can cause a range of symptoms, including heel pain.
Using the Calcaneal Squeeze Test to assess heel pain
The Calcaenal Squeeze Test is a simple yet highly effective diagnostic tool used to assess heel pain (PodiaPaedia, n.d.), especially when there is a suspicion of stress fractures or other related injuries.
This test involves gently applying pressure and squeezing the back of the heel bone, known as the calcaneus, between the thumb and finger. If the patient experiences a sudden and sharp pain or tenderness upon performing the Squeeze Test, it may indicate the presence of a stress fracture or another type of injury that requires further evaluation and appropriate treatment.
How to use Carepatron's free Calcaneal Squeeze Test template
Our printable Calcaneal Squeeze Test worksheet makes conducting the exam easy and jotting out results. Follow these steps to get started:
Step 1: Get a copy of the template
Access the free Calcaneal Squeeze Test using the link on this page. You can also get a copy from the Carepatron app or our resources library.
Step 2: Print or use digitally
Print out the template and have it ready for use. Alternatively, you can complete the test on your device using a PDF editor.
Step 3: Record patient information
In the designated fields, enter the patient's name, date of birth, and contact details. This information will help keep track of results and follow-up appointments.
Step 4: Conduct the test
Follow the instructions provided on the template to perform the Calcaneal Squeeze Test correctly. Remember to apply gentle pressure and ask the patient for their feedback throughout the test.
Step 5: Analyze results
Based on the patient's response, mark down whether they experienced pain or tenderness during the test. You can also add comments or notes in the designated section.
Step 6: Interpret findings
Review the results and compare them to known signs of calcaneal stress fractures or other injuries related to heel pain. If necessary, consult a doctor for further evaluation and diagnosis.
Step 7: Determine the appropriate treatment
If the patient shows positive signs of a calcaneal stress fracture or other injury, it is important to provide them with proper treatment and care. This may include rest, support devices, physical therapy, or medical intervention.
Calcaneal Squeeze Test example (sample)
Our team has designed a sample Calcaneal Squeeze Test sample to help you understand how to use the template and record the patient's information. This example is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.
Why use Carepatron as your physical therapy software?
Don't settle for less in managing your physical therapy practice. Carepatron is designed to optimize your workflow, reduce administrative burden, and enhance patient outcomes. It offers a suite of tools that integrates appointment scheduling, billing, electronic health records, and communication all in one intuitive platform.
Our physical therapy practice management software makes managing your practice seamless, giving you more time to focus on what truly matters - your patients. Empower your practice with Carepatron and experience the difference it can make in your daily operations. It's time to elevate your practice to new heights of efficiency and patient care.
Start your journey with Carepatron today. Sign up or contact us for more information. Your success is our priority.
Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Sever's disease. Victorian Government, Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/severs-disease
Mayo Clinic (n.d.). Plantar fasciitis - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354846
PodiaPaedia. (n.d.). Calcaneal stress fracture squeeze test. Retrieved January 9, 2024, from https://podiapaedia.org/wiki/orthopaedics/stress-fractures/calcaneal-stress-fracture/calcaneal-stress-fracture-squeeze-test/
Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., et al. (2020). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for University Students: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of American College Health, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2020.1796575
Wong, J., & Libman, I. (2020). Clinical Management of the Child and Teenager with Diabetes. In P. Zeitler & M. S. Harris (Eds.), Pediatric Endocrinology (pp. 1-28). MDText.com, Inc. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519544/
Uher, R., Brammer, M. J., Murphy, T., Campbell, I. C., Ng, V. W., Williams, S. C., & Treasure, J. (2004). Brain function in adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(7), 839-847. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15555842/