What is Heel Pain?

There are many causes of heel pain, and identifying the cause of the pain is important. Heel pain is generally the result of faulty body mechanics such as an abnormal gait, which can place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissue attached to it. The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones in the foot and pain can occur in the front, back or bottom of the heel and can sometimes be disabling. The stress can also be caused by an injury, or a bruise from walking running or jumping on hard surfaces, being overweight or wearing improper footwear.

Most Common Types of Heel Pain

Heel Spurs are a bony growth on the underside of the heel bone, visible via x-ray, and can extend forward as much as half an inch. A heel spur can be the result of strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot. Like plantar fasciitis, the repeated stretching of the band of tissue connecting the heel to the ball of the foot can cause heel spurs.

Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain is from inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring that supports the arch in your foot. However, if the tension becomes too great, it causes small tears in the fascia. The repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.

Excessive Pronation is excessive inward motion while walking. Normal foot movement, or pronation, is the normal flexible motion of the foot while walking – the heel contacts the ground first, shifting the weight first to the outside of the foot and then moving inward toward the big toe. However, excessive pronation creates an abnormal amount of stretching and pulling of ligaments and tendons. It can contribute to hip, knee and lower back pain.

Common diseases associated with Heel Pain

  • RA
  • Bursitis
  • Neuroma
  • Haglund’s deformity
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Bone bruises
  • Stress fractures

Treatment

Treatment for heel pain varies based upon the pain and other symptoms involved. In most cases conservative treatments correct the problem, and only in a relatively small number of cases does heel pain require more advanced treatment or surgery.


References

  1. The American Podiatric Medical Association