Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present. Heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation or, rarely, a cyst. Because there are several potential causes, it is important to have heel pain properly diagnosed. A foot and ankle surgeon is able to distinguish between all the possibilities and to determine the underlying source of your heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue the plantar fascia that extends from the heel to the toes.
Heel pain. How this works. Give today. If you are prone to plantar fasciitis, exercises that stretch the Achilles tendon heel cord and plantar fascia may help to prevent Sore heels area from being injured again. Heel pain. Wear proper footwear. What are the complications of heel pain? Causes of heel pain also include:.
Copper terminal strips. Chronic Heel Pain? 4 Simple Fixes for Your Plantar Fasciitis
Your foot and ankle are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than tendons.
- Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present.
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- Heel pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many potential causes, ranging from conditions that affect the actual heel bone, like a bruise or stress fracture, to conditions that affect structures near it, like plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis.
- Your foot and ankle are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than tendons.
Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present. Heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation or, rarely, a cyst.
Because there are several potential causes, it is important to have heel pain properly diagnosed. A foot and ankle surgeon is able to distinguish between all the possibilities and to determine the underlying source of your heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue the plantar fascia that extends from the heel to the toes.
In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain. The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to faulty structure of the foot. For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
Wearing nonsupportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. Obesity and overuse may also contribute to plantar fasciitis. People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after they have been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking, the pain decreases because walking stretches the fascia.
For some people, the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet. To arrive at a diagnosis, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your medical history and examine your foot.
Throughout this process, the surgeon rules out all possible causes for your heel pain other than plantar fasciitis.
In addition, diagnostic imaging studies, such as x-rays or other imaging modalities, may be used to distinguish the different types of heel pain. Sometimes heel spurs are found in patients with plantar fasciitis, but these are rarely a source of pain. If you still have pain after several weeks, see your foot and ankle surgeon, who may add one or more of these treatment approaches:.
Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to nonsurgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of nonsurgical treatment, you continue to have heel pain, surgery will be considered. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial for you.
No matter what kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Therefore, you will need to continue with preventive measures. Wearing supportive shoes, stretching and using custom orthotic devices are the mainstay of long-term treatment for plantar fasciitis.
A A A Print Share. What Is Plantar Fasciitis? Causes The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to faulty structure of the foot. Diagnosis To arrive at a diagnosis, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your medical history and examine your foot. Nonsurgical Treatment Treatment of plantar fasciitis begins with first-line strategies, which you can begin at home: Stretching exercises. Exercises that stretch out the calf muscles help ease pain and assist with recovery. Avoid going barefoot.
When you walk without shoes, you put undue strain and stress on your plantar fascia. Putting an ice pack on your heel for 20 minutes several times a day helps reduce inflammation. Place a thin towel between the ice and your heel; do not apply ice directly to the skin. Limit activities. Cut down on extended physical activities to give your heel a rest. Shoe modifications. Wearing supportive shoes that have good arch support and a slightly raised heel reduces stress on the plantar fascia.
Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. If you still have pain after several weeks, see your foot and ankle surgeon, who may add one or more of these treatment approaches: Padding, taping and strapping. Placing pads in the shoe softens the impact of walking.
Taping and strapping help support the foot and reduce strain on the fascia. Orthotic devices. Custom orthotic devices that fit into your shoe help correct the underlying structural abnormalities causing the plantar fasciitis. Injection therapy. In some cases, corticosteroid injections are used to help reduce the inflammation and relieve pain. Removable walking cast. A removable walking cast may be used to keep your foot immobile for a few weeks to allow it to rest and heal.
Night splint. Wearing a night splint allows you to maintain an extended stretch of the plantar fascia while sleeping. This may help reduce the morning pain experienced by some patients.
Physical therapy. Exercises and other physical therapy measures may be used to help provide relief. When Is Surgery Needed? Long-Term Care No matter what kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Printed from FootHealthFacts.
Self-management may include using ice, stretching, wearing proper footwear and altering training methods. Continuing to perform an activity that is causing worsening of symptoms can lead to a more significant problem that is harder to address. I have severe heel pain. Most days. Diagnosis of heel pain.
Sore heels. What Is It?
However, many patients without symptoms of pain can have a heel spur. The exact relationship between plantar fasciitis and heel spurs is not entirely understood. The heel spur itself is not likely the primary cause of pain, rather inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia is thought to be the major contributing factor. Self-management may include using ice, stretching, wearing proper footwear and altering training methods.
Ice should be applied prior to and following activity for approximately 20 minutes. Try using a frozen oz. The calf muscles can be stretched by standing facing a wall. Step your sore foot back and while keeping that heel down, lean forward until a comfortable pull is felt in the back of the lower leg. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat. Recently research has shown that stretching the great toe back toward oneself from a seated position with the leg crossed over the knee can be a very effective self management technique.
Start by purchasing a pair of heel cushions. If the pain persists greater than 3 weeks… Speak to our physiotherapists about our successful plantar fasciitis protocol. We are able to provide relief, often within 3 treatments.
In extremely resilient cases greater than 6 months , Radial Shockwave may be right for you. I work in a factory and I stand and walk on concrete at least 50 hours a week.
I rarely get a chance to sit. Recently the pain in my heels is excruciating. I found a lump in the bottom of my foot about a year ago. I was told I needed orthotics. Who can afford those. I have also in the past had problems with Achilles heel. I can barely walk by the end of my shift some days. Most days. Hi Michelle, I have posted a video in the learning section of our website.
I made the video to reach the many people who are unable to afford treatment. I hope that it can answer some questions for you. My heel all of a sudden just started hurting really painful throbbing pain. Its almost breath taking. Its more on the inside part of the side of it. I carry heavy furniture up and down stairs. And stand in concrete all day. This causes a deep, aching pain felt in the middle of the heel that worsens with weight-bearing activity.
Haglund's syndrome , also referred to as "pump bump," occurs when a bony prominence at the back of the heel rubs against rigid shoes. The pain of Haglund's syndrome is felt at the back of the heel and may be associated with limping and signs of inflammation like swelling, warmth, and redness. Retrocalcaneal bursitis causes pain deep in the back of the heel, while calcaneal bursitis pain is felt on top of to the side of your Achilles tendon.
The sinus tarsi, referred to as "the eye of the foot," refers to the space on the outside of the foot between the ankle and heel bone. This space, while small, contains several ligaments, as well as fatty tissue, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. Rolling out your ankle often triggers this syndrome , which may lead to pain with weight-bearing activities, a sensation of ankle looseness, and difficulty walking on uneven surfaces, like grass or gravel.
Piezogenic papules are painful, yellow or flesh-colored heel bumps that represent fat from deep within the skin pushing through the heel capsule called fat herniation. The papules are benign and only cause pain in less than 10 percent of cases. The cause is unknown, although experts suspect the papules may result from a hard heel strike during walking. Interestingly, they are a characteristic skin finding in people with the connective tissue disease Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Rarely, an infection of the heel bone called osteomyelitis may cause pain—although, unlike most other sources of heel pain, the pain from an infection of the heel bone is usually constant. A fever may also be present. A tumor in the heel bone may cause pain, usually reported as deep, boring, and worse at night. If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, seek medical attention.
Most heel conditions can be diagnosed with a medical history and physical examination alone. A detailed medical history is often the crux for diagnosing heel pain. With that, it's sensible to come prepared to your doctor's appointment with answers to these basic questions:. During your physical exam, your doctor will inspect and press on "palpate" various areas of your foot, including your heel, as well as your ankle, calf, and lower leg.
By doing this, she can check for areas of focal tenderness, swelling, bruising, rash, or deformity. She will also likely evaluate your gait, as well as move your foot and ankle around to see if that elicits pain.
While blood tests are not commonly ordered for the diagnosis of heel pain, your doctor may order one or more laboratory studies if she suspects or wants to rule out a particular condition.
For example, a white blood cell count or erythrocyte sedimentation rate may be ordered if a bone infection is being considered. An X-ray of the heel may be ordered to diagnose certain conditions like a stress fracture of the heel, Haglund's syndrome, heel spur, or bone tumor. Less commonly, other imaging tests are used. For instance, magnetic resonance imaging MRI may be used to diagnose a soft-tissue injury or an infection.
While it is reasonable to think that heel pain must stem from your heel, this is not always the case. Sometimes pain is referred to the heel, as in certain neurological conditions. Irritation of a nerve in the lower back called radiculopathy may cause pain of the calf muscle that moves down the leg into the heel.
In addition, peripheral neuropathies associated with diabetes, alcohol abuse, or a vitamin deficiency can cause diffuse foot and heel pain. Besides a neurological exam, an MRI or nerve conduction studies may be ordered to diagnose nerve problems.
Skin problems, like an infection of the hindfoot or ankle cellulitis , plantar wart , diabetic ulcers , or fungal foot infection e. Whole-body inflammatory diseases like sarcoidosis , rheumatoid arthritis , or reactive arthritis may cause heel pain.
Laboratory and imaging studies are also used to diagnose systemic diseases. Treatment depends entirely on the root cause of your heel pain. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or how severe your condition is, be sure to seek medical advice before beginning any treatment plan. Some common treatments are listed here—but keep in mind, not all of these are appropriate for every condition. In other instances, resting can help to eliminate the most severe pain until you are able to see your doctor or a podiatrist.
For most sources of heel pain, applying an ice pack over the heel for minute intervals up to four times daily can help diminish swelling and soothe your pain. Be sure to place a thin towel between the ice pack and the skin of your heel. Taping the foot with sports tape or hypoallergenic tape is useful for certain heel diagnoses like plantar fasciitis, heel pad bruise, and heel pad syndrome.
For plantar fasciitis, your doctor may recommend a taping technique involving four strips of tape that get applied around the foot and heel. The tape should not be applied too tightly and can stay in place for one week. Exercises and stretches are designed to relax the tissues that surround the heel bone.
Some simple exercises, performed in the morning and evening, often help patients feel better quickly. For Achilles tendonitis, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who uses a specialized exercise program called the Alfred protocol, which focuses on eccentric loading of your Achilles tendon.
Depending on the cause of your heel pain, various foot supports may be recommended by your doctor. For instance, for plantar fasciitis, your doctor may recommend wearing splints at night to keep your foot straight. Likewise, heel wedges or shoe orthotics may be recommended for the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. For Haglund's syndrome, your doctor may recommend altering the heel height of your shoes.
Sometimes, cortisone —a steroid that reduces inflammation—may be injected into the heel to ease the pain temporarily for a few weeks, usually. While immediate surgery is needed nearly all the time to treat an acute Achilles tendon rupture, for other causes of heel pain, surgery is generally only recommended if non-surgical therapies have not worked for a period of six to 12 months.
For example, with plantar fasciitis, surgery to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone called plantar fascia release may be performed if all other treatments have failed for one year. Preventing symptoms of heel pain may be a critical component of the long-term treatment of your condition. Depending on the exact source of pain, prevention strategies may slightly differ. But in general, there are some steps that you can take to avoid a recurrence of heel pain symptoms.
Some causes of heel pain are more serious than others. Regardless, your doctor can help you figure out what's causing the discomfort and craft a treatment plan that will help your specific situation. The upside is that most solutions are fairly simple—rest, ice packs, and footwear modifications—that you can do at home without any hassle.
Try to follow your doctor's plan as best as you can—your body, including your heel, deserves your attention and care so it can heal properly and you can be pain-free. Dealing with joint pain can cause major disruptions to your day. Sign up and learn how to better take care of your body. Click below and just hit send! Tu P, Bytomski JR. Diagnosis of heel pain. Am Fam Physician. Management of plantar fasciitis in the outpatient setting. Singapore Med J. Biomed Res Int. Management of achilles tendon injury: A current concepts systematic review.
World J Orthop. Tarsal tunnel syndrome caused by an uncommon ossicle of the talus: A case report. Medicine Baltimore. Stress fractures of the foot and ankle in athletes. Sports Health. Heel Pain: Diagnosis and Management. Clinical characteristics of the causes of plantar heel pain.
Ann Rehabil Med. Haglund syndrome with pump bump. Med Arch. The Achilles tendon and the retrocalcaneal bursa: An anatomical and radiological study. Bone Joint Res. Helgeson K. Examination and intervention for sinus tarsi syndrome. Ma DL, Vano-galvan S. Piezogenic pedal papules. Osteomyelitis: approach to diagnosis and treatment. Phys Sportsmed. Primary tumours of the calcaneus. Oncol Lett. Chronic heel pain: It could be tuberculosis. Malays Fam Physician. Painful heel: MR imaging findings. The diagnosis and treatment of heel pain: a clinical practice guideline-revision J Foot Ankle Surg.
Understanding Diabetic Foot Infection and its Management. Diabetes Metab Syndr. Lui E. Systemic causes of heel pain. Clin Podiatr Med Surg. Podolsky R, Kalichman L. Taping for plantar fasciitis.
Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) - Foot Health Facts
Back to Foot pain. There are lots of causes of heel pain. You can usually ease the pain yourself. But see a GP if the pain does not improve. Find an urgent treatment centre. Page last reviewed: 1 April Next review due: 1 April Heel pain. How to ease heel pain yourself If you see a GP, they'll usually suggest you try these things:. Do rest and raise your heel when you can put an ice pack or bag of frozen peas in a towel on your heel for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours wear wide comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole use soft insoles or heel pads in your shoes wrap a bandage around your heel and ankle to support it try regular gentle stretching exercises take paracetamol.
Don't do not take ibuprofen for the first 48 hours after an injury do not walk or stand for long periods do not wear high heels or tight pointy shoes. Media last reviewed: 17 April Media review due: 17 April You can ask a pharmacist about: the best painkiller to take insoles and pads for your shoes treatments for common skin problems if you need to see a GP.
Find a pharmacy. Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:. Moderate pain: always there makes it hard to concentrate or sleep you can manage to get up, wash or dress. Common causes of heel pain Heel pain is often caused by exercising too much or wearing shoes that are too tight. Your symptoms might also give you an idea of what's causing your heel pain. Symptoms Possible cause Sharp pain between your arch and heel, feels worse when you start walking and better when resting, difficulty raising toes off floor plantar fasciitis Pain in ankle and heel, pain in calf when standing on tiptoes Achilles tendonitis Redness and swelling, dull aching pain bursitis Sudden sharp pain, swelling, a popping or snapping sound during the injury, difficulty walking heel fracture or ruptured Achilles tendon.
Information: Do not worry if you're not sure what the problem is. Follow the advice on this page and see a GP if the pain does not get better in 2 weeks. You can also read about pain in other areas of your foot. Sharp pain between your arch and heel, feels worse when you start walking and better when resting, difficulty raising toes off floor.