Heel cups, pads, or cushions are commonly used by patients in my Houston podiatry practice prior to seeing me for the first time. You know they are popular when you take a look at the choices at any pharmacy foot care aisle! They often don't solve the pain, however.
Most heel pain is caused by an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament or the Achilles tendon where it attaches to the heel bone. The cushioning provided by the heel cup does nothing to address the inflammation or the mechanics of the foot that prevents the inflammation from resolving on it's own. Heel cups are much more useful when the pain is directly due to a heel spur.
The best heel cups made out of a thick gel, such as the one pictured. This provides extra cushioning beneath the heel to minimize the pressure on a heel spur. This is also particularly useful when the natural padding has worn away with time. If you are concerned that you are not using the right heel cup for your condition, or if your foot continues to hurt while wearing heel cups, contact your Houston podiatrist to put you on the right path.