What Causes Heel Pain?

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Heel pain is a common symptom for many adults, particularly those who jog, run or are otherwise physically active often. Although heel pain may be caused by a wide variety of factors, it is commonly a symptom of a greater condition, including a bone fracture or strained muscle, so it is important to talk to your physician if you experience pain in your heel.

Symptoms

Symptoms of heel pain include pain of any kind when walking or otherwise putting pressure on the foot. The pain may radiate on the bottom or back of the foot, and may worsen when running, climbing stairs or even walking. Patients may find walking on the toes alleviates the pain, and the heel may hurt when touched.

Common Causes of Heel Pain

Heel pain is generally a very common injury, particularly in those who are athletic. Unfortunately, heel pain can be caused by a wide variety of factors, so diagnosing the reason for your heel pain generally requires a visit to a physician's office. However, heel pain is most commonly caused by muscle strain, overexertion, fractures or an injury to the Achilles tendon. In addition, heel pain may be caused by a condition called Sever's Disease, which is caused when stress is repeatedly applied to the heel. This stress causes inflammation in the heel's growth plate, and the resulting pain occurs when outside pressure is applied to the inflamed area. Sever's Disease is relatively easy to treat, however, and can occur in one or both feet.

Tendo-Achilles Bursitis

An additional cause for heel pain in adults is a condition called Tendo-Achilles bursitis. This condition is an inflammation of a fluid-filled sac in the foot along the Achilles tendon and heel bone. Although conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can increase a patient's risk for Tendo-Achilles, the injury may also occur due to poor cushioning in the shoes or repeated stress to the area by running, jumping or otherwise pounding the foot along a hard surface. Athletes who play track, basketball or soccer are more at risk for this injury.

Diagnosis

Physicians regularly recommend their patients to foot and ankle specialists, and additional testing may be required. Often, physicians use an X-Ray, MRI or CAT scan to determine what is causing the affliction. A doctor may also ask about recent physical activity.

An X-Ray may be required to diagnosis the underlying cause of foot pain.
An X-Ray may be required to diagnosis the underlying cause of foot pain.

Treatment/Solution

Heel pain may be treated by refraining from strenuous activities and limiting physical movement. In addition, shoes with solid arch support and cushioning are essential. Medications may be prescribed in moderate cases of heel pain, and in severe cases, surgery may be used to correct the underlying medical condition. This often involves lengthening the tendon or otherwise stretching the heel plate.

Well-cushioned shoes may help to reduce pain in the heel.
Well-cushioned shoes may help to reduce pain in the heel.

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