15 Reasons of Heel Pain
January 17, 2024
Heel pain can be caused by structural issues with the bones and soft tissues, or by constant stress on the heel, such as that experienced during long-distance running. Injuries like fractures and sprains are also common culprits. Additionally, certain medical disorders like reactive arthritis and bursitis can lead to heel pain.
What is a Heel?
There are over 100 tendons, 33 joints, and 26 bones in your foot and ankle. The most significant bone in your foot is the heel.
Heel pain can occur if you overuse or damage your heel. This may be minor or incapacitating.
There are several possible reasons why the heel of the foot hurts. An aggravation of the heel area can lead to the development of general heel pain. As we get older and the fat pad protecting our heel bone deteriorates, this can happen more frequently.
Any kind of discomfort or agony that happens in or beneath the heel is referred to as heel pain. Additionally, heel pain may run along the back of the heel. Heel pain can range in intensity from a slight ache to a more severe pain. In certain instances, heel pain may start out mildly before getting worse over time. In other situations, heel pain might come on suddenly and be very severe and sharp.
Foot heel pain can occur during activities such as walking, standing, or playing sports. There may be some discomfort in the heel area. The area around the heel may swell in certain situations.
Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain can have a variety of reasons. Among the most typical are:
- Plantar Fascitiis – An inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament running the length of the foot, is the cause of plantar fasciitis, which is typically brought on by overuse. Usually, plantar fasciitis causes a stabbing pain in the area beneath the heel. After getting out of bed in the morning, the pain in the bottom of the heel is usually at its worst.
- Achilles Tendinitis – Achilles tendinitis is caused by overuse, which damages and inflames the Achilles tendon. Pain starts as a dull ache above the heel and can worsen over time or after physical activity. Stiffness, swelling, and pain when walking may occur if shoes rub against the sensitive area.
- Achilles Tendon – Achilles tendon rupture is a condition caused by a quick and forceful movement that often occurs while participating in sports. This is different from Achilles tendinitis. When the Achilles tendon ruptures, there is usually a sudden and severe pain in the lower leg, above the heel. Some people describe it as feeling like they were kicked in the calf.
- Heel Bone Bruise – A heel bone bruise may occur due to any incident that forcefully hits the heel bone, such as falling, jumping and landing hard or stepping on a hard surface like a rock. This can result in pain and tenderness in the heel region and may also cause swelling and discoloration. Although many heel bone bruises do not show any symptoms, some may cause discomfort.
- Heel Bursitis – Bursae are small, fluid-filled pouches that help in cushioning and lubricating the joints of the body. When there is inflammation of the ankle bursa, it can result in pain in the area behind the heel, specifically between the Achilles tendon and heel bone. This condition, known as heel bursitis, may cause swelling, pain, and tenderness.
- Heel Spurs – Heel spurs, also known as bone spurs, are bony protrusions that develop on the heel bone. While some heel spurs may not cause any pain, they can be sensitive to the touch and cause discomfort when standing or moving. In some cases, heel spurs may grow large enough to be visible or felt as a lump on the outside of the foot.
- Heel Bone Fracture – A fracture of the heel bone is usually caused by a traumatic accident like a car crash or a fall from a significant height. This type of injury can cause excruciating pain immediately and requires prompt medical attention.
- Stress Fractures – Stress fractures are small cracks in bones caused by repetitive stress. Athletes who engage in sports that involve jumping and running are at a higher risk of developing stress fractures.Stress fractures can also be caused by osteoporosis.
- Haglund’s deformity – Haglund’s deformity is a condition characterised by a bony growth on the back of the heel. This can occur when the surrounding tissue and bone are irritated due to rubbing against shoes.
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – Pain in the foot or ankle caused by compression neuropathy of the large nerve in the tarsal tunnel is known as Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sever’s Disease – The most common cause of heel pain in children and young adults is overuse and repetitive microtrauma to the growth plates of the heel bone. This condition known as Sever’s Disease is more prevalent in children aged 7 to 15 years old.
- Gout – Gout is a form of arthritis caused by uric acid crystals in joints, commonly in the big toe and heel. Gout attacks in the heel are extremely painful with sudden, severe pain, swelling, and redness.
- Sinus Tarsi Syndrome – The region on the outside of the foot between the ankle and heel bones is called the sinus tarsi.A traumatic injury is typically the cause of sinus tarsi syndrome, which results in persistent pain in the front and sides of the ankle. When engaging in weight-bearing activities, the heel pain often gets worse. Additionally, there might be a “looseness” in the ankles and trouble walking on uneven surfaces.
- Heel Bone Infection – This type of osteomyelitis is characterised by persistent heel pain, often accompanied by fever and exhaustion.
- Fat Pad Atrophy – As people age, the cushioning fat in their heel may degrade and become thinner over time. This is called atrophy of the fat pads. People with this condition typically experience pain that subsides in the morning but worsens as they move about throughout the day.
Preventing Heel Pain
There are measures you can take to avoid damage to your heel and its supporting structures, even if you have never had heel pain before. Some of these precautions that can be taken are as follows:
- Preserving a healthy weight as being overweight puts more strain on the lower limbs, especially the heels.
- It’s critical to wear supportive, cushioned shoes that fit properly to avoid developing different kinds of heel pain. It is therefore advised to wear suitable shoes.
- Warming up is also essential before physically taxing activities like sports or running long distances.
The feet can experience a great deal of strain when walking, running, and jumping. The feet are strong and capable of bearing a lot of weight, but as pressure builds up, heel pain may occur. It is advisable to maintain the health of the ankles and feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should I see a Doctor for my heel pain?
If the heel pain doesn’t go away after a week or if it hurts while walking or standing, the person should see a doctor.
2. What side effects can heel pain cause?
Foot pain can make it difficult to move around on a daily basis. Additionally, it might alter your gait. This increases your risk of falling and losing your balance, which increases the risk of further injuries.
3. Where on the heel does pain typically occur?
Certain areas of the foot such as the side of the foot, the achilles tendon, and the bottom of the heel, can hurt from heel pain.