Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Heel Pain

There are 26 bones that constitute your ankle and foot. There are 33 joints and a hundred more tendons that are part of it too.

Once you use your foot too much or injure the heel, then a heel pain will most likely occur. The pain we feel will range from mild to more disabling discomfort. In a number of cases, a podiatrist or doctor will be needed to diagnose why you have heel pain.

Heel pain typically is a rare health threat and the pain just disappears without proper intervention. But some people may experience persistence of pain for long periods of time.

Usually, heel pain affects the back and the underside of the heel. Heel pain interferes with normal daily living activities like physical exercise, although it can rarely be one of the symptoms of a more serious medical problem.


Notable Causes of Your Heel Pain

Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are the most known causes of someone’s heel pain. Plantar fasciitis involves the bottom part of the heel, while Achilles tendinitis, the back part of the heel.

There are a number of reasons why you are experiencing heel pain. Some associated causes are being overweight or heel strain due to feet pounding on surfaces that are hard and wearing of shoes that don’t fit your feet properly.

These forceful injuries inflame the bones, tendons, and muscles located in the heel. The following conditions are the common heel pain causes seen in most people.

Plantar fasciitis

This disease usually develops at the time your tendinous tissue that connects your heel to your ball of foot (metatarsal) gets swollen. Athletes who jog and run daily have experienced plantar fasciitis more. It also results to wearing shoes that do not properly fit your feet.

Achilles Tendinitis

This results from the swelling of Achilles tendon that runs towards the back part of your heel. Achilles tendinitis is commonly seen in people who have a very active lifestyle. Those who have the habit to jog or run all the time just like professional dancers and athletes.

Heel Spurs

When the line of the heel cover stretches at a constant pace, it can lead to heel spurs. When heel spurs happen, it breaks off the lining in pieces. The people who have heel spurs are usually obese. It also develops in people who jog and run frequently, just like an athlete.


The causes of heel bursitis may include pressure from wearing improper footwear, wearing heels, or landing in an awkward position. Heel bursitis is defined as bursa inflammation, which is located at the back part of the heel. Bursa is this fibrous sac that contains a lot of fluid.

The pain can be felt deep inside your heel or sometimes at the back portion of your heel. In some instances, swelling of the Achilles tendon is possible. The pain often gets worse when the day moves forward.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

This is often related to compression neuropathy as a large nerve is pinched and entrapped at the foot’s back. This can occur mostly in the foot or ankle.

Excessive Pronation

When your foot starts rolling inward and reaches the arch part, it is a condition called excessive pronation. The tendons and ligaments located at the back part of the heel that has exerted too much force become stretched. Excessive pronation occurs when your gait or the movement when you walk is caused by injuries in your knees, at the back, or hips.

Severs Disease

Calcaneal apophysitis or Severs disease is commonly seen in teenagers and kids, typically the ages of 7 to 15 years. This is caused by repetitive trauma and overuse of the calcaneus growth plates. Calcaneus is also the other name of heel bone.

Heel Bumps

This is commonly seen in teenagers. Heel bumps happen when your heel bone is still not fully matured and is excessively rubbed, thus resulting to bone formations. This is also the result when someone has flat foot.

Stress Fracture

A fracture linked to stress happens due to sports, heavy work done manually, or strenuous exercise which can be stressful to your foot. This may also be directly related to osteoporosis.

Girls who use high heels is also affected by heel bumps as their bones are still not fully mature.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This is a disorder of the nerves; the nerves that have been damaged because of the destruction of the nerve axons due to toxins exposure, infections, traumatic injuries, and metabolic disorders. It can cause numbness and pain in your feet and hands.

The most known cause of peripheral neuropathy however, is diabetes.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid disease affects your joints in the feet and hands, but soon will affect any joints in all parts of the body. The people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis experience stiff joints and may feel tired and unwell for most of their days.


Gout is related to arthritis. It happens when uric acid levels in your blood are increased that can cause the build-up of urate crystals in your joints. It can cause severe pain and inflammation in the hands and foot.

Other heel pain causes include:

  • Reactive arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Bone tumor
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • Haglund’s deformity
  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis
  • Neuroma

These are common diseases that are typically linked to heel pain as a symptom. Ask your doctor or other medical professionals for a more accurate diagnosis.

Heel Pain Complications

Like many medical cases, there are also complications plaguing heel pain, and these are:

  • The pain is debilitating and may affect activities of daily living.
  • There is a significant change in your walk and movement.
  • You will most likely lose balance and might fall.
  • Injuries from fall are imminent.

Home Treatment Regimen That You Can Do

Once you develop a heel pain, you may want to try a number of interventions at the comfort of your own home to lessen the discomfort that you are feeling.

  • Application of ice in the heel two times daily. Do it for minimum 10 minutes and the maximum of 20 minutes.
  • Wear well-fitted shoes. Make sure that it does fit properly and can give support to your feet. For athletes, it is best to pick the right shoes that are perfect for the sport you do.
  • Take as much rest when you have enough time, if possible. Avoid daily activities that can put too much stress on the heels like standing, walking on surfaces that are hard, or standing for many hours.
  • Try using shoe inserts or heel lifts to ease the pain. There is also a customized orthotics that is used to treat heel problems. These products can be bought at your local drugstore.
  • Use OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers. Ibuprofen or aspirin are the drug choices to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Night splint is recommended to be worn when you sleep. It is a device that can stretch your foot.

When is The Best Time to See Your Physician?

When the following home care techniques don’t quite relieve you from the pain, you should go see a doctor.

  • The doctor will need to perform some physical assessment and examination.
  • You will be asked a medical history, the symptoms you are experiencing and for how long have it manifested.
  • An X-Ray of the foot will also likely to be ordered to know the root cause of the heel pain.
  • Once the doctor finds out the cause, a proper medical treatment is then made.

Immediately see a doctor when you feel:

  • Heel pain associated with tingling sensation or numbness in the heel, and fever.
  • Severe swelling and pain located near the heel.
  • Very bad sudden pain that is caused by an acute injury.
  • Your foot can’t bend in a downward motion; you can’t normally walk, or rise with using your toes.

Make an Appointment if:

  • The heel pain lasts for several weeks or even more than that. And even when you are resting, put ice on your feet, and tried several home treatments.
  • The heel pain continues to show signs while you are standing or not walking.

Other Healthcare Professional Recommendations

  • Doctors, in many instances, order a prescription of physical therapy sessions. This will aid in strengthening tendons and muscles of your foot. This may also prevent additional injury.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines are often prescribed for the treatment of severe pain. Anti-inflammatory medications may be taken orally or injected at the affected site.
  • Doctors recommend that your foot be supported to the fullest. Wear special devices of footwear or you can tape your foot.
  • Surgeries are only recommended in rare cases in order to correct problems. Surgery of heel pain needs a lot of time to recover and it do not always relieve someone from the foot pain.

Prevention is Always Better than Cure

Not all cases may be prevented, but there are guides that may help you avoid injuries and prevent the pain. As much as possible:

  • Support your foot and always wear proper shoes for such activity. Shoes must also be well-fitted.
  • Muscles must be stretched when doing physical activity.
  • Always pace yourself when going through physical activity. Take the time before going full blast.
  • Maintain a weight in accordance to your height (body mass index).
  • Healthy diet should be maintained at all times.
  • Take some rest when feeling tired and when muscles are sore and painful.
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