You’re not alone if you suffer from heel pain. Over two million Americans struggle with heel pain each year, and it accounts for about 15% of all foot pain in the United States. But knowing you aren’t alone doesn’t help solve your pain.
From wearing the wrong type of shoes for your feet to issues with nerve damage or tendons, there are many possible causes of your pain. It’s important to address the root issue triggering your pain to ensure it stops for good.
Board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, and our experienced team at New Canaan Podiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut, specializes in diagnosing the cause of your heel pain and providing expert treatment to get you back on your feet.
If you’re experiencing heel pain, it’s important to see a skilled podiatrist so they can get to the bottom of what’s causing the issue. In the meantime, we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the common causes of heel pain and what you can do about it.
Read on to learn more about the top causes of heel pain!
Why do I have heel pain?
Your heel is a complex body part made up of several important parts. There are three main components:
- Calcaneus or heel bone, which serves as the rounded foundation of your foot
- Plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from your heel along the base of your foot
- Achilles tendon, a tendon that connects your heel bone to your calf muscles.
When any component develops an issue, the result may be heel pain. Frequently, problems with your gait (the way you walk or run) or issues with how you stand to contribute to the underlying problem and make your foot and heel pain worse.
Some of the common causes of heel pain include the following:
Cause #1: Plantar fasciitis
When this thick band of tissue becomes inflamed from overstretching, you can develop a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. Symptoms include sharp or stabbing pain in your heel and heel pain when you first move after periods of rest, like your first steps in the morning.
At New Canaan Podiatry, Dr. Taub sees many cases of plantar fasciitis, which is the most common cause of heel pain. She develops a treatment plan for your specific needs to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Cause #2: Achilles tendonitis
The Achilles tendon can suffer from overuse, especially after high-impact movements, like jumping or going back-and-forth during tennis. When this happens, the tendon becomes inflamed and causes different symptoms including heel pain, swelling of the heel, tight calf muscles, and a limited range of motion.
Cause #3: Heel spurs
Calcium deposits that form on the base of your feet can cause heel spurs. This happens when your heel is damaged from osteoarthritis or other degenerative conditions.
When you have damage in the bone, your healing system sends new bone material to your existing bones to try to repair the damage. The result? Bone spurs.
Heel and bone spurts can cause heel pain and additional symptoms, such as joint pain and stiffness, cramps, weakness in the feet, and nerve pain. At New Canaan Podiatry, Dr. Taub evaluates and treats heel spurs.
Cause #4: Bursitis
Bursitis is an inflammation of your bursa, a sac that lines the joints and allows your tendons and muscles to move with ease. In your heel, bursitis can cause pain at the underside or back of the heel.
Sometimes heel bursitis is related to structural issues in your feet that create an abnormal gait. Other times, wearing shoes that don’t have proper cushioning in the heels can trigger bursitis. Dr. Taub can recommend treatments to address the inflammation and provide you relief.
Cause #5: Problems with nerves
When your nerves are damaged or compressed, you can experience tremendous pain. In the heel, the most common causes of nerve damage is a condition called tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Like carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist, this occurs when a nerve is compressed. In the heel, it happens at the back of your foot and is often related to an injury, like a sprain or fracture, or a varicose vein near your heel.
Are there treatments for heel pain?
Yes! Dr. Taub and the team first diagnose the cause of your heel pain. Dr. Taub then customizes a treatment plan designed to alleviate your pain and restore your mobility. Treatment modalities differ depending on your unique needs but may include:
- Custom orthotics
- Rest and ice
- Wearing different shoes
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
In severe cases, surgical interventions may be required to address the underlying issue causing your pain.
Are you bothered by heel pain? Contact Dr. Taub and the team at New Canaan Podiatry by calling 203-263-9052 to book an appointment now!