Heel Pain Problems
Heel pain is a frustrating symptom. Common causes can range from fat pad syndrome to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis to Baxter’s nerve impingement and even in young active children, Sever’s Disease can limit mobility and result in your child pulling out of a sporting game in tears.
With many causes including obesity, ill-fitting shoes, and irregular walking style, heel pain is a very common problem among adults and children.
Why Is The Heel Bone Important
The heel bone (calcaneus) is one of the highest impact areas of the body. Your heels are the first point of impact each time you take a step so when there is a problem with them, it is very frustrating.
Poor biomechanics and tight or ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate the impact of your stride and increase the wear
and tear on your heels. The result can usually be very painful. Heel pain is not easy to ignore because we are always on our feet.
Plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Achilles Tendonitis, heel bursitis, Sever’s disease, fat pad syndrome and Haglund’s deformity are some common painful and debilitating heel problems. For more information on the causes and treatment options of Heel Pain, click on the pages listed below:
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of the fibrous tissue that joins the calf muscle to the back of the heel. Achilles Tendonitis can result in intense pain particularly after activity; and a modified gait pattern. Pain is felt at the back of the heel and into the calf muscles.
Plantar Fasciitis is an overuse injury of the fibrous band underneath the foot. The pain of plantar fasciitis is severe and usually experienced during the first steps in the morning or when standing after sitting for periods of time. The pain is generally experienced on the bottom of the heel or in the arch.
Over pronation or Flat Feet – Excessive pronation may be the result of differing leg lengths or foot shapes. Flat feet lead to over stretching of the plantar tissues which pull on the bottom of the heel. If left unaddressed these problems may cause a chain of related issues in the ankles, knees, hips, lower back and even migraine.
Haglund’s Deformity – the most common cause is wearing tight shoes, such as women’s pumps or sling back shoes, giving it the colloquial name, ‘pump bump’. The continuous pressure of the shoes irritates the soft tissue around the Achilles Tendon insertion creating inflammation and causing a bony bump (retrocalcaneal heel spur). It can lead to further complications such as Bursitis. Lateral palpation of the heel causes unbearable pain. Treatment for Haglund’s deformity is usually shoe modifications including donut padding, shoe inserts to raise your heel above the pressure point coupled with some stretching exercises. Shockwave therapy is also useful to reduce the size of the ‘bump’.
Heel Bursitis – Bursitis is the result of overuse, stress or damage to the lubricating sac known as the bursa. The bursa, lying between the Achilles Tendon and the heel bone, functions as a protective cushion but through overuse or damage, it becomes traumatized and inflamed. Tight shoes that put alot of pressure on the heel are enough to cause heel bursitis.
Heel Spurs – Pain associated with heel spurs is often an intense pain at the front of the heel after activity or upon rest at the end of the day. You may feel as though you are walking on a stone. The pain may begin in the heel but then spread into the arch of the foot and even radiate into the Achilles tendon. Heel spurs are often confused with plantar fasciitis, however a heel spur can be seen clearly on an X ray.
Sever’s disease may develop in young children between the ages of eight and fourteen. It is a painful, resulting in limping post activity and can last for a several years if left untreated. The condition is caused by bones growing faster than muscles and creating associated tightness and friction at the growth plate of the heel.
Symptoms include severe pain usually after activity with your child walking on their toes, they may limp off in tears at half time and even be unable to complete a match. Sever’s disease is diagnosed by squeezing or putting pressure on the outside of the heel bone.
Baxter’s nerve entrapment is often misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis. Its symptoms include pain around the border of the heel bone, tingling sensation in the heel and numbness or hypersensitivity.
Causes & Treatments
Common Causes of Heel Pain
- hard surfaces
- poor footwear
- over pronation/flat feet
- under pronation/high arches
- long periods of standing
- Rest and ice
- Heel raises
- Dry needling
- Shockwave therapy