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Heel Pain: Most Common Causes and Treatments

Heel pain is most common in people over 40, but it also occurs in children 8 – 13 often. Of course, heel pain is a condition that can happen to anyone, just like ankle problems and arch problems.

But what are the most common causes of heel pain?

More importantly, how can you treat heel pain once and for all?

Plantar Fasciitis


Plantar fasciitis is a condition that is occurring more often in people. When you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you’re suffering from a condition in the ligament that runs from the heel bone to the tip of your foot.

A strong ligament, the condition often occurs in people that have arch-related issues, such as an arch that’s too high or too low.

When your plantar fascia, the ligament we discussed earlier, is stretched too far, the fibers become inflamed and the pain starts to kick in.

Heel Bumps


Heel bumps can be serious, and a lot of people will call these “pump bumps.” Teenagers suffer from pump bumps most often, and it’s due to the heel bone not reaching its complete level of maturity.

The result is the heel rubs excessively when walking, and when this rubbing occurs, it leads to the formation of bone.

When too much bone forms, it can be uncomfortable and lead to heel pain. People that suffer from flat feet often experience heel bumps, or if a person wears high heels before the heel fully forms, they may also suffer from heel bumps.

Heel Bursitis


Bursitis is an interesting condition because it is when the heel’s bursa becomes inflamed. What happens is that you land on the heel the wrong way or you walk very hard on your heel and hit the bursa, or the hard sac full of fluid at the back of the heel.

The pain will be deep, so you may even feel it in the heel rather than at the back of the heel.

Typically, as the day goes on, the heel pain will worsen and make it uncomfortable to walk properly. It’s a condition that is best treated with a little rest and relaxation. You may also consider icing the heel to alleviate some of the pain.

Limiting activity is often the best course of action because this is one of the rare injuries where the heel is painful due to impact.

Thinning of the Heel Pad


Sometimes, the heel pad will begin to thin. The thinning will cause chronic inflammation of the heel, and as you can imagine, this is rather painful. A person that takes very heavy footsteps may also suffer from chronic inflammation in the heel, although the heel pad has not thinned.

There may also be an atrophy of the fat cushion along the plantar fascia. When this atrophy occurs, the thickness of the fat cushion in the heel starts to thin out. It’s often mistaken for plantar fasciitis, but in reality, the person has just lost shock absorbency in the heel.

Achilles Tendinitis


Achilles tendinitis occurs when there’s inflammation in the Achilles tendon. The tightening or burning sensation occurs at the back of the heel bone. There may be mild swelling around the tendon as well as stiffness in the morning.

This condition is often the result of overuse, such as running too much or not warming up the calf muscles before a run.

Bone spurs caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes or arthritis can also lead to Achilles tendonitis.

On rare occasions, the tendon will actually rupture. This can happen if you’re engaging in vigorous physical activity and your foot pivots suddenly.

Stress Fractures


Stress fractures are more common in long distance runners and athletes who increase their running mileage over a short period of time. This puts repeated stress on the heel bone, which eventually leads to a break.

There are also other factors that can increase your risk of developing a stress fracture, including:

  • Having an eating disorder
  • Low bone mass
  • Menstruation is infrequent or absent

Stress fractures cause serious pain that becomes intense with activity and improves with rest. Along with pain, you may also experience swelling and tenderness in the affected area.  But there are some special foot care tips for runners and athletes that don’t include medication, therapy or any painful treatments.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome



Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the large nerve at the back of the foot becomes pinched. The pain is often described as an aching or burning sensation in the heel.

Numbness and tingling may also be present, and the pain often gets worse at night.

Common Treatments for Heel Pain


A lot of people are able to correct their heel pain with medical grade compression socks or conservative treatments. BLITZU socks are popular among people with active lifestyle because of the comfortability and performance quality. This is a great path to take, especially when the pain isn’t debilitating. The most common forms of treatment for heel pain are:

  • Taping to add more support to the foot
  • Orthotics or inserts that cushion the heel and add support
  • Physical therapy that can strengthen lower leg muscles and provide better stabilization for the ankle and heel
  • NSAIDs to help reduce the swelling and pain
  • Injections given by a doctor
  • Rest the heel, avoiding walking on hard surfaces or running
  • Wear proper footwear that offers good support
  • Use foot supports that include heel cups which will absorb some of the shock in the heel when walking or running and keep the heel in a proper position
  • Ice the area for 15 – 20 minutes numerous times per day to reduce swelling and alleviate pain
  • If you’re overweight, losing weight will help reduce the stress that’s put on the heel

Rest and relaxation are also beneficial. You’ll want to keep off your heel as much as possible to allow the swelling to subside and the pain to go away.

Surgery may be required in the most severe of cases, but this is not common.

In fact, surgery should only be a last resort for people with heel pain. Whenever surgery is recommended, ensure that it is as a last resort and not the first course of action you pursue. The vast majority of people are able to solve their foot pain naturally.

November 10, 2019

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