Why Your Heel Hurts

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

Come on down! You’re the next contestant on America’s least loved yet widely attended game show: Why Does My Heel Hurt?!

Heel pain is a very common problem. You would have no trouble filling up a massive studio audience with people who have some form of heel discomfort (not that there is actually a good reason to).

While millions of Americans share a common bond of heel pain, though, how similar are their conditions, truthfully? If you dove into the actual causes and factors surrounding each case of heel pain, you might be surprised at how many differences and variations you would find!

While heel pain can often feel like a basic symptom, its roots can lie in a variety of different conditions. The feet have many moving parts, and that means many potential sources of painful problems.

The best way to get to the root of persistent heel pain and treat it properly is by scheduling an appointment with your friendly local podiatrist. We’ve seen and treated more than our fair share of heel pain cases, and are more than happy to help you, too. Just contact us!

Before you appointment, you may want to write down what you know about your pain. This can include where exactly it hurts, when it hurts worst, and how it affects your life. Knowing these answers as part of an examination can help us narrow down the likely causes of your heel pain much faster.

Here are a few examples of how different factors can often direct a heel pain diagnosis. Do any sound familiar?

Pain in the Back of the Heel

Is your pain centered in the direct back of your heel, and maybe even a little above it? If so, we might first consider Achilles tendinitis.

The Achilles tendon is a strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. While hearty, it can become stressed and overly stretched, resulting in inflammation and sometimes partial tearing. Often, the Achilles tendon will be injured either through a sudden strain placed upon it, or through repetitive activity without being given enough time to rest and recover.

If your pain tends to be worse following physical activity, that’s another sign that could lead us toward this diagnosis. However, there may also be a chance that the condition is bursitis, an inflammation of a fluid-filled sac in the back of the heel.

Your Heel Pain is Worst First Thing in the Morning

Now, there are several conditions that can cause heel pain to be part of your morning wake-up call. But based purely on the numbers, plantar fasciitis will probably be our top suspect.

If that pain you feel is sharp, centered along the bottom of the heel, and takes a few minutes of hobbling around before it goes away, the probability is even greater.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common diagnoses for heel pain, if not at the very top of the list. About 2 million Americans reportedly receive treatment for it each year, and that doesn’t include all the people who don’t come in for help!

The plantar fascia runs along the underside of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes. It has some similarities to the Achilles tendon in that it’s a thick, strong band of tissue that can nevertheless become painfully strained through overuse.

You Are Between the Ages of 8 and 15

(Or at least the heel pain victim you know is.)

While children and teens can experience many of the same “standard” causes of heel pains as adults, there is another condition that needs to be considered around this age.

Sever’s disease occurs when a rapidly maturing heel bone grows too fast for the Achilles tendon and other connective tissues to keep up. This causes those smaller, tighter tissues to pull harder on the heel bone, which is often more sensitive during its growth period.

This condition is more prevalent in adolescents who are more active, but it is not unheard of in those who are not.

Be a Sure Winner Over Heel Pain

None of the descriptions above should be considered an “instant diagnosis” for any of these conditions. They’re more a way of showing just how varied the factors around heel pain can be.

When you come to see us for heel pain, we will take the time to conduct a full examination and understand all the circumstances around how it is affecting your life. We not only seek to determine the condition that is causing the pain, but also the factors that contribute to it – such as an abnormal foot structure or too demanding a routine with exercise or work.

By determining all the sources of the pain, we not only can recommend the best course of treatment, but can also take steps to help prevent the problem from returning in the future.

The sooner you see us for persistent heel pain, the faster you can start experiencing the relief you deserve! Call our Massapequa office at (516) 541-9000 to schedule an appointment. We also have telemedicine appointments available if you prefer to speak with Dr. Fox or Dr. LoBello remotely instead.

1 Comments
Great post that adds immediate value. Definitely going to bookmark this particular post. Keep up the awesome and informative posts. Though not expressly the heel, another one seen often is posterior tib tendinitis. So often foot pain comes down to proper footwear, arch stability and flexibility, properly warming up. Do you agree?
by Daniel Davids April 17, 2017 at 11:17 PM
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