The most common causes for heel pain are plantar fasciitis (bottom of the heel) and Achilles tendinitis (back of the heel). Other less common issues include heel spurs, joint inflammation (bursitis), arthritis, fractures, or Haglund’s deformity.
Sometimes a body-wide condition like gout can contribute to heel pain, but the pain often affects only the foot.
Plantar fasciitis presents itself when the tissue at the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed. Symptoms of this condition include stabbing pain in the bottom of the heel after sitting for long periods or when first walking in the morning. Individuals who are overweight, wear improperly fitting footwear, or are runners are more at risk for this condition.
When the foot muscles dramatically increase in use, such as with athletes or runners that suddenly increase workouts, the tendon that connects the foot to the calf can become overused. The pain can generally be relieved with simple at-home remedies, but if the tendon ruptures, the patient should seek immediate medical attention, and the torn tendon will require surgery.
Often resulting from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs are abnormal growths of bone in the foot and heel area. They can become painful and are usually caused by overuse, such as by athletes or overweight individuals.
Joint Inflammation (Bursitis)
The sac of fluid that insulates joints is called a bursa. When this sac becomes inflamed (often because of an abnormal walking pattern or poorly fitting footwear), the resulting pain causes heel pain, especially when walking or moving.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain in the heel of the foot. This chronic inflammation of joints also can affect the skin, eyes, organs, and blood of an individual. Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful swelling and can deteriorate the joints and other areas. It is often present in older individuals, and severe arthritis can cause significant physical disabilities.
Fractures in the bone structure can cause heel pain.
Often present in individuals who wear high heels excessively, this condition is also known as a pump bump. After repeated stress, a bony structure can grow on the back of the heel, causing bursitis (swelling), pain, and inflammation in the heel. There may also be redness present with this condition.
Read more in our blog: What Is Haglund’s Syndrome and Can Achilles Tendon Surgery Treat It?
What Can I Do For My Heel Pain?
Much of the time, heel pain can be relieved with at-home remedies and conservative treatment.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers may help relieve the pain from heel injuries and conditions.
- Resting the injured foot can help relieve pain.
- Icing the area with a cold compress can help reduce swelling and pressure in joints.
- For some injuries, stretching the foot and calves can help stretch the foot muscles and ease tension.
If you are experiencing severe pain, the inability to walk, have a fever, or have extended numbness, it is time to see a doctor. A podiatrist like Best Foot Doctor can evaluate your heel pain and, if necessary, take X-rays to identify bone spurs or growths that may be causing your pain. If your heel pain lasts for more than a week and does not seem to improve with at-home remedies, call us for an appointment. Our experienced care team will work to identify the best way to relieve your pain and improve your condition.