Heel pain, while quite common, can be extremely uncomfortable and painful if not met with proper care or treatment. Heel pain may occur if you injure or overuse the heel. If left uncared for, the affected area may worsen, limiting your mobility and making it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as walking.
There are many different causes of heel pain, including strains or sprains, tarsal tunnel syndrome, stress fractures, Achilles tendonitis, and heel bursitis. One of the most common causes of heel pain for children and teenagers specifically is Sever’s disease. Sever’s disease can develop due to overuse or repetitive microtrauma of the heel bone's growth plates. This condition is often seen among those who are active in sporting activities.
One of the main causes of heel pain is a condition known as plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that extends along the bottom of the foot, from the toe to the bottom of the heel. A rip or tear in this ligament can cause inflammation of these tissues, resulting in heel pain. People who do not wear proper fitting shoes are often at risk of developing problems such as plantar fasciitis. Unnecessary stress from ill-fitting shoes, weight change, excessive running, and wearing non-supportive shoes on hard surfaces are all causes of plantar fasciitis.
Achilles tendonitis is another cause of heel pain. Similar to plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the Achilles tendon will cause heel pain due to stress fractures and muscle tearing. A lack of flexibility of the ankle and heel is an indicator of Achilles tendonitis. If left untreated, this condition can lead to plantar fasciitis and cause even more pain on your heel.
A third cause of heel pain is a heel spur. A heel spur occurs when the tissues of the plantar fascia undergo a great deal of stress, leading to a separation of the ligament from the heel bone entirely.
Other causes of heel pain may include issues with poor circulation, poor posture when walking or running, a soft tissue mass, and a rupture of the Achilles tendon. To help ease the discomfort of heel pain, it’s advised that you get plenty of rest, apply ice to the affected area, and wear shoes that fit properly. In some more serious cases, a podiatrist might recommend the use of custom orthotics or shoe inserts for extra support.
There are various options your podiatrist may suggest for heel pain. Treatment options for heel pain typically include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which may reduce swelling and pain. Other options are physical therapy, athletic taping, and orthotics. In severe cases of heel pain, surgery may be required.
Preventing heel pain is possible. If you’re experiencing heel pain, we recommend you consult with a podiatrist as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.