Heel Pain

Sometimes, heel pain makes itself known as a persistent, dull ache. Other times, it jolts with pain that shoots up your leg with each step. Either way, it can keep you from doing the things you love, or even getting through an ordinary day comfortably.

What Causes Heel Pain?

There are many causes of heel pain but generally it can be categorized into three categories: plantar fasciitis, marrow edema/stress reaction, and neurological induced aka tarsal tunnel syndrome. If your child has heel pain, the majority of the time it is calcaneal apophysitis. If your heel pain is posterior, then it is likely Achilles tendinitis, Haglund’s deformity, or adventitious bursa.

If you would like to get a more in depth look and better understanding into what causes heel pain, download our free guide. This guide will help you to learn more about the causes of heel pain that may be affecting your life, and how you can take care of the problem.

Are You Living with Foot Pain, but Don’t Know Why?

Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia (a thick fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot that connects your heel bone to your toes). What that means is that you are essentially overusing your plantar fascia. We see this condition in people who stand or walk a lot for their jobs or people who are active (ex: runners, dancers, ballet, soccer players, etc.).

Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This is caused by an overuse of the Achilles tendon. We commonly see this in active individuals like runners and sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer.

Marrow edema/stress reaction is the inflammation of the calcaneus (heel bone).  This is also known as a bone bruise. This usually occurs either with sudden trauma to the heel (ex: a ballet dancer or gymnast landed hard on his/her heel) or repetitive microtrauma to the heel.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the tibial nerve is irritated. This usually happens in individuals who have flatfeet or overpronate. Biomechanically, when that happens, the structures on the medial (closest to midline of the body) ankle, including the tibial nerve, gets compressed and, over time, the compression irritates the nerve and causes it to swell. One of the branches of the tibial nerve is the medial calcaneal nerve, also known as Baxter nerve, and an entrapment of that can cause heel pain.

runner tying laces

Calcaneal apophysitis, also known as Sever’s disease, is a condition that occurs in skeletally immature children. It is the inflammation of the growth plate due to overuse. We see this in active children.

Haglund’s deformity, also known as pump bump, is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel. Pain occurs when there is pressure on the bony prominence which is usually caused by shoe gear with rigid back, heels, and men’s dress shoes. Causes of Haglund’s deformity includes, but is not limited to, heredity and tight Achilles tendon.

Adventitious bursa, or bursitis, develops due to repetitive use. A bursa is a fluid-filled sack located in various points around the body to reduce friction between the tendons and the joints and sometimes the skin. There is one anterior and one posterior to the Achilles tendon. These bursae can be inflamed due to chronic frictional irritation.

a woman sitting on a bench holding her heel in pain

How Is Heel Pain Treated?

With recent onset pain, you can usually treat it yourself with a decrease in activity, supportive shoe gear, rest, icing, and pain medication. However, if your heel pain is lingering or affecting your daily life activities, you should consider seeing a doctor so you can get back to activities faster. Here at Advanced Foot & Ankle Centers, we are here to help you.

When you are here, after a full exam, some of the treatment options we may recommend includes but not limited to:

  • Pain medication (over the counter or prescription)
  • Steroid injection
  • Connective tissue/amniotic injection
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy
  • Custom inserts
  • Night splint
  • Aquaroll foot therapy
  • MLS laser therapy
  • Physical therapy

Keep in mind that 90% of all heel pain can be treated conservatively. A form showing different exercises you can do for different heel pain causes can be found here. We hope this information will take away any reservation you may have for coming in for an evaluation.

If heel pain is becoming an unwelcome component of your day-to-day life, rely on our experience and give our team a call. We have offices in Chicago, Joliet, Orland Park, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Waukegan, and Kenosha to serve the greater Chicagoland area.

Understand What Causes Your Heel Pain!

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