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:
- 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
- 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.
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.