5 Common Causes of Heel Pain

Heel pain is a common foot problem with several common causes. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of pain symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause.

5 Major Causes of Heel Pain & Its Treatment

Doctor can usually determine the cause of heel pain based on the symptoms and a physical exam.

5 Major Causes Of Heel Pain Are:

  1. Baxter's Nerve Compression.
  2. Plantar Fasciitis.
  3. Fat Pad Atrophy
  4. Achilles Tendonitis.
  5. Stress Fracture Of Calcaneus.

1. Heel Pain Due To Baxter's Nerve Compression

Heel Pain Due To Baxter's Nerve Compression

Baxter's nerve is a nerve branch which runs beneath the heel bone. It may become entrapped in the medial heel. Baxter's nerve entrapment may cause heel pain, paresthesias, abnormal sensation on the plantar aspect (bottom) of the heel, and medial heel tenderness.
The abductor hallucis muscle of sprinters, dancer and gymnasts are well developed and it causes baxter nerve compression when the athletes are frequently on their toes.

Treatment For Baxter's Nerve Compression Includes:

  • NSAIDs
  • Heel stretching exercises.
  • Orthoses.
  • Surgery to decompress Baxter's nerve at the fascia between the quadratus and abductor hallicus.

2. Heel Pain Due To Plantar Fasciitis

Heel Pain Due To Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a medical condition in which there is inflammation and swelling of thick tissue on the bottom of foot. This thick tissue is called the plantar fascia. This can be painful, making walking more difficult. Plantar fasciitis gets usually worse in mornings when the patient takes the first stand on the feet.

Walking and stretching exercise often give relief from this painful tightening associated with plantar fasciitis. Prolonged exercise or standing makes the pain symptoms more intense. Clinical feature also includes medial calcaneal tuberosity tenderness and tight heel cord.

Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis Includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Heel stretching exercises
  • Shoe inserts (heel padding)
  • Rarely surgery

3. Heel Pain Due To Fat Pad Atrophy

Heel Pain Due To Fat Pad Atrophy

Fat pad atrophy is a condition that can develop in the ball of the foot. In fat pad atrophy the fat that cushions the calcaneus is diminished.

The symptom of fat pad atrophy includes experiencing pain in the ball of the foot. It can give significant pain while walking. This condition is quite common in the elderly population. It can be treated through a variety of methods; there is also a history of injecting steroids to a lot of patients.

Treatment For Fat Pad Atrophy Includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Shoe inserts (custom orthotics)

4. Heel Pain Due To Achilles Tendonitis

Heel Pain Due To Achilles Tendonitis

It is a common condition that causes chronic pain to the tendon connecting heel to muscles of lower leg. It primarily occurs from overuse of the tendon. This tendon is called the Achilles tendon. It gives the ability to rise up on toes, allowing for the act of walking.

Achilles tendonitis makes walking quite painful and trouble standing on one toe.

Treatment For Achilles Tendonitis Includes:

  • Ice therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Immobilization

5. Heel Pain Due To Calcaneal Stress Fracture

Heel Pain Due To Calcaneal Stress Fracture

Due to overuse, a stress fracture can occur in the calcaneus bone. Calcaneal stress fracture can also occur from a sudden force to the heel. Symptoms of calcaneal stress fracture include weight bearing pain.

Stress fracture injuries of the heel are common for running sports due to the repetitive shock being placed on the heel. A calcaneal stress fracture causes pain by side to side compression of the calcaneus.

Treatment For Calcaneal Stress Fracture Includes:

  • Rest
  • Partial to complete immobilization
  • Activity modification

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: April 24, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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