Heel Pain

Heel pain is the most common problem affecting the foot and ankle, and there are many different causes. While the feet can handle a great deal of stress on a daily basis, excessive force, including repetitive pounding of feet on hard surfaces during athletic activity or shoes that cause irritation, can lead to heel pain. In some cases, heel pain may be the result of plantar fasciitis.

Pain and soreness in the heel will usually resolve itself with adequate rest and without the need for surgery. However, many people who experience heel pain often ignore symptoms and continue engaging in the activities that caused it. When excessive force is continually applied to a sore heel, or when other conditions are present, the problem can progressively worsen and create more issues.

Treating Heel Pain

An evaluation is important in identifying the underlying cause of heel pain, which may include pain beneath or behind the heel. Treatment may vary depending on the issue:

Beneath-the-Heel Pain

  • Stone bruise – A stone bruise is a deep bruise on the foot pad underneath the heel. It commonly results from impact injuries or from stepping on an object. Heel pain associated with a stone bruise will gradually dissipate with rest.
  • Plantar fasciitis – Excessive running or jumping can cause inflammation in the fascia, the band of tissue that connects the base of the toes to the heel bone. With this condition, pain may be located under the center of the heel, and can flare up after periods of rest. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used to control pain and swelling. Rest, shoe modifications, and physical therapy can aid in recovery.
  • Heel spur – When plantar fasciitis is left untreated, calcium deposits (heel spurs) can develop on the tissue band connecting to the heel. Rest, physical therapy, stretching, and shoe modifications will generally resolve pain associated with a heel spur over time.

Behind-the-Heel Pain

Pain behind the heel may indicate inflammation in the area where the heel bone meets the Achilles tendon (retrocalcaneal bursitis), which can be caused by running or shoes that place excessive pressure on the back of the heel. Pain may worsen over time, and the area behind the heel may develop a bump or become tender. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory medications to manage pain and swelling, stretching exercises, physical therapy, rest, ice, or other approaches if a bone spur is detected.

Request an Appointment

Learn more about the underlying cause of your heel pain when you meet with our South Bay foot and ankle specialist. Call to request an appointment at one of our three conveniently located offices.