The 8 Most Common Causes of Heel Pain

Pain that occurs under the heel is known as plantar fasciitis. This is the most common cause of heel pain. Pain behind the heel is Achilles tendinitis. Pain can also affect the inner or outer side of the heel and foot. In most cases, pain is not caused by an injury. At first, it is usually mild, but it can become severe and sometimes disabling. It usually disappears without treatment, but sometimes it can persist and become chronic.

Heel pain is usually caused by repetitive stress and pounding of the heel. Read on the discover the common causes of heel pain!


Plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of the plantar fascia

The plantar fascia is a strong bowstring-like ligament that runs from the calcaneum (heel bone) to the tip of the foot. This type of pain often happens because of the way the foot is made, for example, if the arches are especially high or low.

When the plantar fascia is stretched too far, its soft tissue fibers become inflamed. This usually happens where it attaches to the heel bone, but sometimes it affects the middle of the foot. Pain is felt under the foot, especially after long periods of rest. Calf-muscle cramps may occur if the Achilles tendon tightens too.

Heel bursitis

Inflammation can occur at the back of the heel, in the bursa, a fibrous sac full of fluid. It can result from landing awkwardly or hard on the heels or from pressure from footwear. Pain may be felt deep inside the heel or at the back of the heel. Sometimes, the Achilles tendon may swell. As the day progresses, the pain usually gets worse.

Heel bumps

Also known as pump bumps, these are common in teenagers. The heel bone is not yet fully mature, and it rubs excessively, resulting in the formation of too much bone. It is often caused by having a flat foot. It can be caused by starting to wear high heels before the bone is fully mature.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

A large nerve in the back of the foot becomes pinched or entrapped (compressed). This is a type of compression neuropathy that can occur either in the ankle or foot.

Chronic inflammation of the heel pad

This is caused either by the heel pad becoming too thin, or through heavy footsteps.

Stress fracture

This is linked to repetitive stress, strenuous exercise, sports, or heavy manual work. Runners are particularly prone to stress fracture in the metatarsal bones of the foot. It can also be caused by osteoporosis.

Severs disease

This is the most common cause of heel pain in child and teenage athletes, caused by overuse and repetitive microtrauma of the growth plates of the heel bone. It most commonly affects children aged 7 to 15 years.

Achilles tendinosis

This is also known as degenerative tendinopathy, tendonitis, tendinosis, and tendinopathy. It is a chronic condition associated with the progressive degeneration of the Achilles tendon.

Sometimes the Achilles tendon does not function properly because of multiple, minor microscopic tears of the tendon, which cannot heal and repair themselves correctly. As the Achilles tendon receives more tension than it can cope with, microscopic tears develop. Eventually, the tendon thickens, weakens, and becomes painful.

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