Do you feel pain at the back of the heel while walking or do you feel a bump on your heel which limits your movements, or does your shoe hits you hard on the posterior part of the heel? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then possibly you might be suffering from posterior heel pain.
What Can Cause Posterior Heel Pain ?
Posterior heel pain can be caused due to several reasons such as:
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone or calcaneus. The tendon helps in walking, jumping, running and standing on feet. Overuse of Achilles tendon can cause painful inflammation, which is known as Achilles tendonitis. Degenerative changes or calcium deposits within the tendon aggravate the problem. The pain is experienced directly over the tendon and the point where the tendon is attached to the heel bone.
Retrocalcaneal Bursitis: Bursa is a small cushioning sac, from where the tendons pass from around the joints. Inflammation of these bursae is termed as retrocalcaneal bursitis. The symptoms experienced by the patient are posterior heel pain and swelling. Pain while running, walking, raising the calf, and sitting with heels on the ground.
Heel Bone Spur: A bone spur develops at the place where Achilles tendon is inserted at the back of the heel. The bony prominence grows over the period of time and can irritate the surrounding tissue leading to bursitis.
Diagnosis of Posterior Heel Pain
Diagnosis of the cause is very important for the effective treatment of posterior heel pain. Various imaging tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis of posterior heel pain.
X-ray: It gives the image of the foot and leg bones
MRI scan: This test help detect any rupture and tissue degeneration
Ultrasounds: It helps in the detection of any inflammation or damage. It also shows the tendon movement.
How is Posterior Heel Pain Treated?
Detection of proper cause is very important for the correct treatment of posterior heel pain. Heel pain due to stress fracture might require restriction of weight on the extremities, while any other cause might not pose the same restriction. Simple non-surgical methods can prove to be helpful in giving relief from posterior heel pain. The doctor might advise a few simple ways to help you get relief from posterior heel pain :
- Gentle stretching of Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
- Icing of the area, where the pain is experienced.
- Elevate the foot to bring down the swelling associated with posterior heel pain.
- Wear a shoe with build-up heel to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon.
- Physical therapy
- Wrapping bandage or an athletic tape around the tendon to compress the injury. A cloth can also be tied around to serve the purpose.
In a few cases where the above options become ineffective, surgery may be necessary to repair the Achilles tendon. Unnecessary delay in the treatment of posterior heel pain can further lead to complications such as complete tear or rupture of the Achilles tendon or heel bone deformity.
Other treatments for posterior heel pain include over the counter pain medications, anti-inflammatory, night splints, and even cast immobilization.
Following the doctor’s advice and taking the necessary treatment seriously can help in quick recovery from posterior heel pain.