What causes heel pain?

By January 30, 2022Heel Pain, newsletter

What causes heel pain?Your foot is one of the most complex parts of your body. According to Medical News Today, there are 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles, The heel bone alone is one of the largest. It’s vital to support your entire body weight.

Although it seems like an overlooked part of our bodies, when your heel is in pain, it can have a significant impact on your entire well-being. And there are various conditions that can cause heel pain. We’ll look at some of the most common causes of heel pain and what you can do about it.

Causes of heel pain

Various conditions can cause heel pain, a common issue for patients. Many conditions are treatable. If you ignore the pain, it may worsen, and you could develop a more serious problem. Here are some of the leading causes of heel pain for patients.

Achilles tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is one of the strongest tendons in your body. It connects your heel to the calf muscle and helps you walk, run, and jump.  Achilles tendinitis refers to a condition where the tissue is overly stressed. This results in a swelling of the tendon. It can also become inflamed, and you’ll feel a lot of pain. Many runners and basketball players are prone to get Achilles tendinitis. It can also be caused by other activities, including:

  • Sudden increase in physical activity
  • Sports where you need to stop or start quickly
  • Shoes that do not fit correctly
  • Running uphill or on uneven hard surfaces
  • Flat arches
  • Weak calf muscles

Achilles tendinitis symptoms include heel pain, but there can be additional indications that you have Achilles tendinitis, such as:

  • Pain in the lower leg above the heel
  • Stiffness in the leg
  • Weakness or swelling in the leg
  • Pain if you climb stairs

Unfortunately, Achilles tendinitis is a type of heel pain that can become chronic if not treated. Leaving it too long can impact your ability to walk and make it very painful. Sometimes, patients can also have a rupture of the Achilles tendon. This is when the muscle tears. If you suffer a rupture, you may notice severe pain in your ankle, swelling, and tenderness in the heel or calf area.

A medical professional will examine your ankle and heel area to diagnose Achilles tendinitis.  They may also use ultrasound or MRI testing to determine if there has been a rupture and how extensive the tear is.

Treatment of the condition includes:

  • Stop engaging in activities that inflame the tendon
  • Use athletic wrap to ease the stress on your leg
  • Stretch before engaging in physical activities
  • Use shoes with a heel lift
  • Take medication to reduce the swelling
  • Physical therapy


Bursitis. Healthy human’s knee and knee with inflammation of bursae (synovial fluid).

This condition is the result of swelling around your joints. You may suffer from bursitis if you are involved in activities that put pressure on your joints, such as your knees or feet. This causes the bursa, fluid-filled sacs, to swell. Normally bursae act as padding to your joints.

Heel pain can be a complaint of those who have bursitis, and it may happen quickly or over a longer period of time. Activities that cause bursitis include:

  • Gardening
  • Painting
  • Shovelling
  • Woodworking
  • Tennis, golf or baseball

Those with bursitis may display several symptoms, such as:

  • Pain with movement
  • Swelling
  • Reduced motion

Physicians may use different methods to diagnose bursitis, including:

  • x-rays
  • ultrasounds or MRI
  • fluid sample from bursa

While bursa can cause you some heel pain, it is easy to treat. You’ll be asked to rest and stop the activity that caused the pain. To help reduce swelling and pain, you can use ice or heat, elevate the injured joint, or use a sling or splint to prevent movement and allow the joint to rest.

Sever’s disease

Commonly found in children, Sever’s disease can cause heel pain. It is also known as calcaneal apophysitis as it is an irritation of the calcaneus bone.  Most cases are a result of a growth spirit or physical activity. Other risk factors include:

  • Running and jumping on hard ground
  • High impact sports like gymnastics or basketball
  • Children who are overweight
  • Wearing shoes that lack the proper support

Sever’s disease only occurs in children, and the symptoms include:

  • Heel pain
  • Tenderness or discomfort after physical activities
  • Swelling or irritation of the heel

You can treat the condition with rest and invest in proper footwear. While it can be painful for children, it won’t cause long-term problems. Stretching the Achilles tendon can help reduce the pain, and patients can benefit from taking pain meds.

Plantar fasciitis

One of the ligaments in your foot is called the plantar fascia. It goes from your toes to your heel and supports the arch. It is like a shock absorber for your body. When it becomes torn or overworked, you’ll start to feel heel pain. This inflammation is one of the most common causes of heel pain.

Some of the causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • High arches or flat feet
  • Running and jumping
  • Prolonged periods of standing
  • Wearing shoes that lack proper support
  • Exercising on a hard surface
  • Engaging in physical activity without properly stretching

Patients with plantar fasciitis may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Heel pain
  • Arch pain
  • Swollen heel
  • Tight feeling in the Achilles tendon
  • Pain that occurs after exercise, sitting or standing for a long time

Along with a physical examination, a medical professional may also request an x-ray, bone scan, MRI or ultrasound to diagnose plantar fasciitis.

Like many causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis can be treated successfully at home with methods such as

  • Regular stretching
  • Using supportive footwear, including inserts and arch supports
  • Use ice on the affected area
  • Reducing physical activity
  • Taking anti-inflammatory meds

Custom foot orthotics can help you alleviate a lot of the causes of heel pain, including plantar fasciitis.

If you are suffering from heel pain, contact CWG Footcare and find out how to overcome it with proper footwear.

Author Derek Gilmer

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