Heel pain can be debilitating. When your feet hurt, just getting through the day can be a struggle. Fortunately, enough is known about heel pain to reveal various factors that can increase heel pain risk.
At Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists, with locations in Bradenton, Sarasota, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida, our team of experienced podiatric specialists can help diagnose and treat heel pain, as well as educate you on risk factors.
Common types of heel pain
There are two main presentations of heel pain. Pain can be at the back of the heel or on the bottom. There are four main causes of heel pain:
1. Plantar fasciitis
The most common type of heel pain is caused by plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the fascia (a band of connective tissue running the length of the bottom of the foot) becomes too tight. The pain presents on the bottom of the foot in the heel area, and you’ll likely feel a stabbing sensation when you get out of bed and take your first steps in the morning.
- Being between the ages of 40 and 60
- Being female, especially when pregnant
- Being a long-distance runner or a ballet dancer
- Working a job that requires long periods of standing on hard surfaces
- Having high arches or atypical walking patterns
2. Heel spurs
The other type of common condition that causes bottom of the heel pain is heel spurs. These are calcium deposits that form on the bones of the heel. They press on nerves and cause intense pain.
- Being obese or overweight
- Standing for long hours at your job
- Wearing ill-fitting footwear
- Running or jogging on hard surfaces
- Having a gait where the heel strikes the ground with excessive force
Back of the heel pain can also have several causes. A common one is bursitis, which results from inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac between the heel bone and Achilles tendon. Bursitis can cause intermittent pain at the back of the heel accompanied by swelling and tenderness that make it difficult to move the foot and ankle.
- Ramping up high-impact workouts too fast
- Wearing ill-fitting footwear for running or jogging
- Having an inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
- Sustaining a sharp blow to the back of the heel
4. Achilles tendon problems
Finally, your Achilles tendon is the most vulnerable part of your heel. It’s a band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Repetitive stress can cause Achilles tendonitis, while an acute injury can result in an Achilles tendon rupture. Both can cause pain in the back of the heel that radiates up the back of the calf.
- Being male
- Getting older
- Having flat feet
- Running on hilly terrain
- Taking certain antibiotics or steroids
Treatment for heel pain
Heel pain can be treated in many ways, depending on the root cause and the severity of the pain. There are some treatments that span almost all types of heel pain:
- Icing and resting the foot
- Wearing supportive and well-fitted shoes
- Avoiding high heels
- Stretching properly before exercise or sports play
- Losing weight, if needed
If necessary, we can provide cortisone injections that reduce inflammation inside the heel, and physical therapy to help you walk more evenly and avoid causing heel pain.
Worried about heel pain? Contact the location nearest you by phone to schedule an appointment, or book online today.