Heel pain is a frequent complaint among people who visit a podiatrist. It can have a variety of causes, such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bursitis, Sever’s disease, and nerve pain. The location and type of pain that you are experiencing helps guide diagnosis.
Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury of the ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot. It is caused by repetitive and excessive stress being placed on the heel, usually from participating in sports that involve a lot of running or jumping. The heel pain is usually described as a sharp, stabbing pain and is at its worst when you take your first few steps after a long period of rest, such as upon getting out of bed in the morning. Similarly, Achilles tendonitis is also an overuse injury, but of the Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. The heel and back of the leg may be tender, painful, and swollen. Bursitis is an inflammation of the heel bursa, small fluid-filled sacs located inside the heel. It can cause redness and swelling in the fat pad of the heel. Sever’s disease is an overuse injury of the growth plate in the heel which most frequently affects children between the ages of 8 and 14. Nerve pain in the heel, while less common than pain from overuse, is often indicated by burning, stinging, or tingling sensations in the heel. These are usually caused by a compressed nerve.
Treatment for your heel pain will depend on your diagnosis. Frequently suggested treatments include activity and footwear modifications, orthotics, over-the-counter pain medications, and resting and icing the affected foot. Surgery can sometimes be necessary for more severe or chronic injuries. To find out what is causing your heel pain and how best to treat it, please consult with a podiatrist.