Recognizing the Possible Causes of Heel Pain

What is Heel Pain?

Plantar fascia

The heel supports the body weight firmly. Heel pain is a form of ailment that mainly affects the foot, including plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. The calcaneus (heel bone) is the first bone in the foot to hit the ground while you are walking. The Achilles tendon is a robust fibrous cord connecting the muscles at the back of the calf with the heel bone (the plantar fascia).

Click on image to enlarge.

Heel pain results from strain on the bones, all muscles, and ligaments of the foot in addition to constant pounding on the heel. Pain occurs without any injury to the affected area. It is commonly mild, but might progress and exacerbate sooner or later if left untreated.

The following are the possible causes of heel pain:

Plantar Fasciitis (Plantar Fasciosis)

This condition is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a bowstring-like ligament that extends from under the heel to the front of the foot. As a strain pulls the ligament from which it attaches to the heel bone, this ligament becomes inflamed leading to pain in heel. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by excruciating pain at the bottom of the heel for months and aggravating pain when arising in the morning (post-static dyskinesia).

Achilles Tendinitis

Known as tendinopathy and tendonosis, Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the large tendon connecting your calf muscles at the back of the lower leg with your heel. The Achilles tendon occasionally experiences degeneration since multiple microscopic tears of the tendon cannot heal properly resulting from sport-related injury such as jumping and running. The Achilles tendon is inclined to deteriorate and hurt.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles tendon rupture is a wound that affects the back of your lower leg, enabling the tendon of the heel cord behind the ankle to rupture or tear. You find it difficult to walk normally because excruciating pain is present at the back of the ankle and lower leg.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to a condition in which a large nerve at the back of the foot is compressed or entrapped as the nerve passes around the outer ankle. It eventually becomes inflamed, leading to tarsal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome is characterized with burning pain that radiates into the heel and arch of the foot, unbearable pain when standing for long periods of time, pain when running, pain that worsens at night, and numbness in the sole of the foot.

Calcaneal Stress Fracture

The fracture might occur in the calcaneus (heel bone) mainly due to sport-related activities like marching, running, jumping, or weight bearing activities. With that said, repetitive pounding on your foot can cause a stress fracture. The pain might develop gradually and lead to pain, especially when you press the back of the heel from both sides.

Heel Bursitis

A bursa, which is a small sac of fluid between the heel bone and fat pad, can be inflamed because of pressure from shoes or landing hard on the heels. When this bursa experiences inflammation, pain occurs either at the back of the heel or inside the heel. The swelling of the Achilles tendon can follow it as well. You need to take a rest unless this condition would get worse.

References

Foothealthfacts.org: Heel Pain: Plantar Fasciitis – https://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/heel-pain.htm

Medicalnewstoday.com: What is Heel Pain? What Causes Heel Pain? – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/181453.php

Heel-that-pain.com: Heel Pain – https://www.heel-that-pain.com/heel_pain/

Photo Credit

Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.