Heel Pain Q & A
by Ernest S. Levi, DPM
What causes heel pain?
The heel is the largest bone in the foot, so it is no surprise that heel pain is one of the most common foot ailments. It can be caused by a number of conditions, as well as, some diseases. Often heel pain is mild and subsides on its own. However, sometimes the pain persists and requires medical intervention.
What are the most common conditions that cause heel pain?
Numerous foot conditions affect the heel. Most common among these are:
- Plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel bone to the tip of your foot.
- Achilles tendonitis. An injury caused by overuse of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is the largest tendon in the body and is used in walking and running.
- Bone tumor or spur. These are abnormal growths.
- Bursitis. This is caused by inflammation of the small sac of fluid (called the bursa) that cushions and lubricates areas between tendons, skin muscles, and bones so that they do not rub on each other.
- Haglund’s deformity. A bony lump that forms on the back of the heel.
- Peripheral neuropathy. A collection of disorders involving nerves of the peripheral nervous system.
- Stress fractures. A bone fracture often caused by strenuous exercise.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is a syndrome in which the large nerve in the back of the foot is pinched.
What illnesses can cause heel pain?
Illnesses that can cause heel pain include:
- Gout. A type of arthritis caused by the body’s inability to properly metabolize uric acid
- Osteomyelitis. An infection of the bone or bone marrow
- Rheumatoid arthritis. It can affect any joint but typically starts with those in the hands and feet
What precautions can I take to prevent heel pain?
Dr. Levi offers the following tips for preventing heel pain:
- Avoid going barefoot on the hard ground.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that provide ample heel support and cushioning.
- Always stretch and warm up before participating in sports that can place stress on the heels. Also, make sure to wear appropriate shoes for the sport you are playing.
Ernest Levi, DPM | 30 East 40th Street | Suite 401 | New York, NY 10016