Heel pain can be caused by many different problems, so it is important to find out what is causing the pain.
The heel is designed as a shock absorber when walking and running and takes 0ne and a quarter times your body weight when walking and can increase to two and three quarter times your body weight when running.
Therefore the heel is prone to mechanical injury due to small but repetitive injuries that occur at a rate faster than the body can heal them. Also lower back and inflammatory joint conditions can cause heel pain.
Common Causes of Heel Pain
- Plantar fasciitis – this is caused by damage to the plantar fascia, a band of fibrous tissue that joins the heel bone to the base of the toes. Pian is worst when you get out of bed in the morning making walking difficult.
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – this is caused by compression of the tibial nerve as it passes inside the ankle, resulting in burning or tingling sensation underneath the heel and in the arch of the foot.
- Calcaneal Bursitis – this is where a fluid filled sac under the heel bone becomes inflammed. The pain is usually more centralised and can worsen significantly as the day progresses.
- Chronic Inflammation of the Heel Pad – this can be due to a heavy heel strike or lack of fatty padding, resulting in a dull ache when standing or walking.
- Stress Fracture – this can occur from falling from a height, and if suspected an x-ray is required.
- Severs Disease – also known as osteochondrosis, which affects children aged 8 – 12. This occurs when the heel bone suffers a temporary loss of blood supply and results in the bone dying, but reforms when the blood supply is later restored. This is a condition that occurs in growing bones but fortunately is self limiting, but can be painful at the time.
- Achilles Tendinosis – this is caused by small tears occuring in the achilles tendon when it is placed under more tension than it is able to cope with. This causes further injury, and swelling in the tendon and is sometimes referred to incorrectly as achilles tendonitis.
What do I do if I experience heel pain?
- If the pain ia associated with a particular shoe, avoid wearing those shoes for a while.
- Avoid walking on hard ground
- Rest if possible, or slow down your walking pace.
- Wear a slightly raised heel, 6-10mm higher than normal
- Use a heel cushion to reduce the pressures on your heel when walking – most chemist stock these.
If the pain persists for more than 3 weeks consider seeking professional advice form us or another HPC registered podiatrist in your area, as it may be more than a temporary injury.