Heel Pain: 5 Common Causes

Living an active lifestyle can have a lot of benefits for your health. However, if you’re not careful, it can also lead to painful injuries or conditions that can leave you sidelined. Heel pain can be especially difficult, because your feet have to support your entire body while you’re upright. It’s not only frustrating, but it causes you to miss out on things you want to do because of the discomfort.

At Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, our staff can help you determine the cause of your pain and get you on the road to recovery with a variety of treatment options. Our skilled foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey McAlister is board-certified and knowledgeable about and experienced with conditions affecting your foot and your ankle. He offers many options, like regenerative medicine, to keep you pain-free.

Symptoms of heel problems

Heel pain can stem from a variety of issues, either with the heel bone itself, or with other structures that surround the bones in your heel. The most common symptom that you have an issue is pain. Pain is a sign your body uses to alert you that something is wrong. Other symptoms you may experience include:

The pain in your heel will present differently, depending on what’s actually causing the problem. For instance, if you have a heel spur, the pain will be underneath your heel. On the other hand, plantar fasciitis causes pain under your heel that’s worse in the morning, along with pain that radiates into the arch of your foot. 

5 most common causes of heel pain

There are many medical conditions that cause heel pain. Some of these causes are very rare, while a few are very common. The following are the five most common causes of pain in your heel:

1. Plantar fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common reasons for heel pain. The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It also helps to form the arch in your foot. Plantar fasciitis happens when that band of tissue becomes irritated and inflamed. The most common time for you to experience pain is standing after a period of rest. This can be when you first get up in the morning, or after you’ve been sitting for a while.

2. Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is another common reason you’ll experience pain in your heel. Your achilles tendon is a strong band of tissue connected to your calcaneus, or heel bone. This problem is considered an overuse injury, meaning you’ve done too much running without properly warming up your leg muscles. You may experience a burning pain or tightness right above your heel. You may also have swelling and stiffness, especially in the morning.

3. Fractures

Stress fractures are a little less common, but they can definitely cause pain. This condition is caused by repeated stress on your heel, and is commonly seen in athletes and distance runners. This may be from doing a lot of running or running longer distances in too short of a time. The pain of the fracture usually gets better with rest, but may also cause tenderness and swelling where the bone is broken.

4. Haglund’s syndrome

This condition, also called “pump bump,” is caused when the bony structure at the back of your heel constantly rubs against an ill-fitting pair of shoes. The pain may cause you to limp, and can also cause swelling and tenderness around the heel. Haglund’s syndrome can also cause bursitis when the tissue around the heel becomes involved. Bursitis is inflammation of fluid-filled sacs called bursa located around your joint.

5. Tarsal tunnel syndrome

The pain of tarsal tunnel syndrome develops when a nerve in your foot becomes pinched and inflamed. It’s actually very similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in your hand. The pain of this condition is usually of a burning or aching nature, and is felt more often at night. You may also experience numbness or tingling in your foot.

No matter what’s causing your pain, Dr. McAlister can help you come to a diagnosis and provide a detailed treatment plan to get you back to your normal activities and reduce your pain for good.

If you’ve been dealing with persistent heel pain, call either of our convenient locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona at 602-761-7819, or book an appointment with us online today.

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