Why Do I Have Heel Pain?

Why Do I Have Heel Pain?

Your heel is the largest bone in your foot. It connects your foot to your ankle, and it absorbs most of your body weight when you stand, walk, and run.

Unfortunately, heel pain is a common complaint among people of all ages, with more than 2 million Americans suffering heel pain each year. When your heel hurts, it can quickly start affecting your daily life, but podiatric care can offer much-needed relief.

Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists provide comprehensive care when your feet hurt. Schedule an appointment to get a diagnosis and treatment for your heel pain, so you can get back to all your favorite activities.

The most common causes of heel pain

Since your heels support your body when you stand and move, they’re susceptible to strain, bruising, and injury with overuse. Whether you’re an avid athlete or you spend long hours on your feet at work, you could be at risk for some of the most common causes of heel pain.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of heel pain. It’s inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes.

If you have plantar fasciitis, you may experience sharp pain in your heel or the bottom of your foot. The pain is typically worse in the morning or after long periods of rest.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is another type of tendon irritation that causes heel pain. Your Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects your heel to the calf muscles of your lower leg.

Pain from Achilles tendonitis may start with mild pain in the back of your leg or just above your heel. Pain may worsen after periods of activity and spread farther down your heel.


Bursae are small pouches of fluid found in joints. They cushion and lubricate the bones of your joints, but bursitis is a condition that makes these pouches inflamed and painful. Your heels have bursae between the heel and Achilles tendon, and heel bursitis is another source of heel pain.

Heel bursitis can cause pain behind your heel, along with swelling and tenderness around the back of your heel and ankle. You may also notice increased pain when standing on your toes.

Stress fracture

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone. Stress fractures typically develop over time, and they’re common in heel bones, because your feet bear your body weight and are subjected to repetitive strain.

If you have a stress fracture in your heel, symptoms can include worsening pain, swelling, and bruising. Untreated stress fractures may continue to get worse, eventually making it difficult for you to stand on the affected foot.

Your treatment options for heel pain

Heel pain shouldn’t be ignored, and you shouldn’t try to diagnose your condition on your own. These are just a few of the most common causes of heel pain, but it’s important to remember that there are many possible causes of heel pain, and finding relief starts by getting an accurate diagnosis.

Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun specialize in identifying the cause of your pain and recommending the best treatment for you. We do comprehensive physical exams, along with additional testing, like X-rays, to diagnose heel pain.

Depending on your condition, rest, ice, and at-home stretches may be all you need to start feeling better. We can recommend anti-inflammatory medication, taping procedures, and other measures as well.

For more severe conditions, we may suggest physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, or custom orthotics. Most people find relief with nonsurgical methods, but in rare cases, surgery may be necessary.

Heel pain shouldn’t stop you in your tracks. Contact our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists to schedule a heel pain exam and get personalized treatment recommendations.

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