So Your Heel Hurts: The Many Causes of Heel Pain

Bunion Pain from High HeelsAlong with ingrown toenails, heel pain is one of the most common complaints we hear about at our office. Sometimes the pain is mild and sometimes severe; often it’s localized under the heel, but sometimes it hurts worse at the back. Because so many different conditions can serve as causes of heel pain, it takes a little detective work to figure out what the real problem is and what needs to be done about it. Fortunately, Harvey Danciger, DPM is on the case. A list of the prime suspects:

Plantar Fasciitis: In this condition, a band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot (called the plantar fascia) stretches, tears, and swells, pulling at the heel. Typically the pain is worst just after getting out of bed or after a period of rest—walking helps the tissue stretch and relax somewhat after 10-15 minutes.

Achilles Tendinitis: The Achilles, the longest and strongest tendon in your body, inserts into the back of your heel. If the tendon is tight, torn, or inflamed, it can cause heel pain by pulling up against the heel bone.

Stress Fractures: Frequent high-impact athletic activity (running, basketball, other sports) without enough rest between sessions can create microscopic cracks in your heel bone. This overuse injury tends to get worse during periods of activity and improves somewhat with rest.

Heel Bursitis: Repetitive motions or constant pressure from shoes can irritate a heel bursa, a small sac of fluid that helps your joint glide smoothly, resulting in pain, stiffness, and tenderness.

Haglund’s Deformity: Also known as “pump bump,” it’s most common in teenage girls but can occur to others as well. A bump forms at the back of the heel, usually due to repeated friction from tight, hard-backed shoes.

Arthritis: This degenerative joint condition is a common cause of heel pain, especially in older adults.

Nerve entrapment:  This condition can also cause heel pain and must be differentiated from the other causes.

Once these (and other) suspects have been lined up, Dr. Danciger will perform a full analysis in order to identify the correct culprit, and take action to undo the damage. Whether the answer is laser therapy, medications, orthotics, physical therapy, or just good old fashioned rest, we will help you find the best way to help you heal your heel as completely and quickly as possible. Give us a call today at (760) 568 – 0108, or request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you at our Palm Desert office!

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Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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