What Causes Pain in The Heel of The Foot? 5 Medical Problems


Heel Pain Causes

While plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, trauma, and Achilles tendonitis are the most common causes of heel pain in adults, there are many other conditions which can also affect the feet and lead to heel pain. Diagnosis needs to be made by a doctor and includes a patient history, examination and usually an X-Ray analysis to help find the root cause of the problem. In the majority of heel pain complaints, the use of orthotics, heel inserts and a change of footwear are the best options for rapid pain relief, treating the problem at its cause, whilst inflammation is controlled with Ice, Compression, and anti-inflammatory pain medication.

Foot Stress Fractures

Foot stress fractures are commonly experienced in the second and third metatarsals, although they can also occur in any weight bearing bone, such as the heel. They are considered an overuse or fatigue injury, caused when the muscles and tendons of the feet fail, causing the bone to be subjected to excessive jarring forces. The condition is most common with female athletes and him over 40’s. Treatment sometimes involves a foot cast; however, foot splints along with a period of rest are the usual treatments.

Bruised Heel Syndrome

Similar to stone bruising, bruised heel syndrome is typified by pain under the fat pad of the heel and is an overuse injury, common with young athletes who train intensely on hard surfaces. The condition is linked to obesity due to the excessive forces the heel is required to take supporting the excessive weight. The problem is mechanical and is treated along the same lines as both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, with shoe inserts, orthotic insoles or gel seats.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the foot equivalent of carpal tunnel syndrome, a much more widely known condition affecting the wrists. It is specifically caused when the posterior tibial nerve becomes compressed or entrapped as it passed through the tarsal tunnel. As with carpal tunnel syndrome, the pain becomes more severe at night and generally causes numbness, pain in the ankle and a burning sensation or tingling. In some cases, the pain can radiate up the leg and throughout the foot, and the condition, whilst relatively rare, is most commonly associated with severely flat feet. Its treatment is with orthotics, arch supports, and NSAID’s and steroid injections.

Subcalcaneal Bursitis

Subcalcaneal bursitis is a relatively uncommon cause of heel pain, which predominantly affects the elderly, in particular when new shoes are first worn. The pain is located under the heel and is caused by inflammation of the bursa, at the point where the plantar fascia joins with the heel bone. It is commonly accompanied by tenderness and swelling. Treatment is often with rest and direct injection of corticosteroids.

Paget’s Disease

Paget’s disease is uncommon, affecting less than 1% of the population of the US. It is a condition responsible for the abnormal remodeling of bone (breakdown and reforming), the mechanism by which the body regulates calcium levels in the blood. It is typified by the formation of enlarged and abnormal bone growth, forming bone which is less dense and brittle, and therefore prone to fractures. It commonly causes no symptoms, although heel bone pain has been reported along with the more common locations such as the spine, pelvis and leg bones. Its cause is unknown, although it is presumed to have a genetic component which is triggered by a viral infection. It is diagnosed with the help of X-rays, and the disease can be effectively controlled and the symptoms managed.

Other possible causes of heel pain

  • Infection of the bone, soft tissues or tendons.
  • Gout.
  • Sciatica.
  • Diabetes.
  • Arthritis.
  • Inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome, psoriatic arthropathy).
  • Primary and secondary benign and malignant tumors

What Causes Pain in The Heel of The Foot? Last Updated: 4/1/2018

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