Heel Pain Conditions
There’s no single cause of heel pain. As a matter of fact, there are often many contributing factors, from the shoes you wear to the sports you play to the lifestyle you enjoy. The type of heel pain varies as well, from soft tissue tears to bone fractures to injured nerves and more. The right treatment starts with the right diagnosis. At Waco Heel Pain Center, our team of experts combine their years of experience with advanced diagnostic technology—and a commitment to really listening to what each and every patient has to say—in order to get it right the first time, every time. Read on to learn more about why your heels might be hurting, and what kinds of conditions could be responsible.
What's Wrong With My Heels?
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Why Your Heels Hurt
Many factors can contribute to a case of painful heels. Some of the most common include:
- Faulty biomechanics. Every foot shape and walking gait is unique. Unfortunately, they are not all created equal. Abnormal walking patterns can place extra stress on the heel bones and attached soft tissues.
- Structural problems. Flaws in foot structure, such as flat feet, high arches, or bony deformities, can create areas of unequal pressure and strain across the feet. This may result in significant heel pain, depending on the condition.
- Poor footwear. Poorly-constructed, ill-fitting, or activity-inappropriate shoes, sandals, and boots that don’t offer the cushioning or support your feet need can contribute to pain.
- Overuse and overtraining. Runners, athletes, and even those with physically-demanding hobbies or occupations often experience heel pain, especially if they don’t give their feet enough time to rest in the meantime.
- Each step can place a force equal to several times your body weight on your feet. The heavier you are, the more forces your heels have to contend with.
- Bumps and bruises. Stepping on a hard object, taking a tumble off the stairs, or other minor traumas can bruise or otherwise damage the soft tissues surrounding the heel.
Common Heel Pain Conditions
- Plantar fasciitis. The tell-tale symptom of plantar fasciitis is stabbing pain underneath the heel, near the arch, that greets you when get up in the morning or rise from lengthy rest. This is the most common heel pain condition in adults, and is caused by stretching and tearing in the fibrous connective tissues along the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia).
- Heel spurs. When plantar fasciitis becomes chronic, deposits of calcium may build up on the underside of the heel bone where the soft tissues are irritated, creating a spur-shaped bone deformity. The resulting bone spur may lead to additional pain under pain and pressure.
- Achilles tendinitis. The Achilles, also known as the heel cord, is the strongest tendon in your body—but also the most frequently injured. Overuse pain and strain, often related to improper athletic training, can cause the tendon fibers to stretch, tear, or break down. Pain is usually located along the back of the leg, just above the heel.
- Achilles bursitis. This condition is often mistaken for tendinitis. A fluid-filled sac called a bursa is positioned between the Achilles and the heel bone in order to facilitate smooth motion. That sac may become inflamed and swollen due to overuse or repetitive motions.
- Pinched nerves. Injuries, repetitive motions, or even poor diet can lead to obstruction or compression in the nerves leading to the feet, particularly where they pass through the tarsal tunnel of the ankle. In addition to heel pain, this may cause symptoms such as tingling, prickling, burning, or numbness.
- Haglund’s deformity. This condition is also known as “pump bump” due to its popular association with the namesake footwear. Shoes with hard, unforgiving backs may aggravate the back of the heel and ankle, and lead to the development of a protruding bony deformity.
Other, less common heel pain conditions include various forms of arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, osteomyelitis, stress fractures, bone tumors and diseases, and others.
Whether the source of your heel pain is common, rare, or obscure, the Heart of Texas Heel Pain Center can help. To schedule your consultation at our office in Waco, TX, give us a call at (254) 776-6995.