Heel Pain: Common Causes and Risk Factors

Heel pain is very tough to ignore. It is one of the more essential structures in the body, that when injured, can seriously impact our ability to stay active and physically independent. Nearly your entire body rests overtop of your heel, bearing the weight and supporting your every movement. Healthy, strong heels are also the key to maintaining a stable foundation on which to stand. 

Heel pain can develop as a dull persistent ache, or as sharp, shooting pains that quite literally take you off of your feet! In some cases, heel pain is due to a minor injury that may run its course in a matter of days, otherwise, it may be an indication of a chronic injury that is worsening.

Dr. Hyderi and the professional team at the Foot and Ankle Specialists of Illinois treat patients with comprehensive foot care solutions. If you have pain, mobility concerns, abnormal growths, or any foot-related conditions, the team at FASI can help you get the relief you deserve!

Common Causes of Heel Pain

While the list of causes for heel pain is much more extensive than you might think, there are a few common causes that podiatrists frequently diagnose, they are as follows:

Plantar fasciitis Causing Heel Pain

The plantar fascia ligament runs from the heel along the bottom of the foot, connecting to the toes. Fasciitis can develop from a range of injuries and factors, causing pain and stiffness. Fasciitis is so prevalent that approximately 10% of the population will experience it over the course of a lifetime. Causes likely include any of the following:

  • Extended periods of standing – spending hours standing on hard surfaces
  • Jogging and running – strain your heel and attached tissue, especially over long distances
  • Age – commonly seen in those between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Foot mechanics – Flat feet or high arches affect weight distribution
  • Obesity – Excess weight puts a strain on your plantar fascia.

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Heel Sprains and Strains 

This form of muscular injury occurs when too much force is exerted on muscles that aren’t prepared or equipped to handle the force. Often occurring after heavy impacts, sudden and aggressive movements, or movements that compromise the structural integrity of the ankle. 

Sprains and strains are one step below tearing the muscle and connective tissue. It is important to allow these injuries to fully heal, as attempting to put force on them can result in a complete tear or other more serious and disabling injuries.

While all sprains should be treated by a trained podiatrist, treating a minor sprain can be as simple as giving it enough time to recover, combined with hot/cold compresses. More severe sprains may require advanced treatment techniques to rehabilitate the muscle and tissues.

Heel Bone Fracture

A fracture is a broken bone. Typically the result of high amounts of force or impact from landing flat on your heel. This type of injury needs to be tended to by a foot specialist to ensure proper and complete healing has taken place! 

If a fracture does not heal properly, it can cause a wide range of complications down the road and could be highly susceptible to breaking again as it is now weakened.

Achilles Tendonitis Causing Heel Pain

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the base of the heel and is responsible for much of your balance and downward foot movement. It is susceptible to wear and tear with age, meaning you are more prone to injury. This injury is accompanied by a dull and persistent ache down the back of the leg or heel, with occasional stiffness. The pain will get worse as you continue to perform exercises and use the tendon. Factors that cause tendonitis include:

  • Increased risk with age
  • Suddenly increasing exercise intensity or duration
  • Repetitive, strenuous loading of the Achilles tendon
  • Exercises performed on an uphill incline

Treatment is dependent on how severe your injury is. Tendonitis is an aggravation that requires an ample amount of rest and therapy to fully heal – preventing further injury or a complete tear.

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Heel Bursitis

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion between muscles and tendons, and the underlying bones. In the case of the heel, there is a bursa that is situated between the insertion of the Achilles tendon and the heel bone it connects to. Factors that may lead to the development of this condition include:

  • Starting a highly intense workout regimen
  • Suddenly increasing activity level without the appropriate conditioning
  • Joint arthritis – caused by inflammation

Comprehensive Foot Care Offered at Foot and Ankle Specialists of Illinois

There are dozens of potential causes of heel pain, and even more when you consider the different areas of the foot that can experience chronic pain. The safest choice is always to have a trained professional examine your foot. 

Dr. Hyderi and her team of podiatrists offer a comprehensive range of treatment options for every part of the foot. Depending on each patient’s unique needs, the team at FASI can:

  • Perform detailed examinations
  • Create custom orthotics
  • Fit you for medical compression garments
  • Perform minimally invasive procedures
  • Surgical corrective procedures

Heel Pain Diagnosis and Treatment Available in Algonquin, Illinois

If you are suffering from any form of foot pain, mobility concerns or growths, reach out to the experts at Foot and Ankle Specialists of Illinois for an initial consultation. Our team can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that is uniquely designed to meet your needs. 

Call our offices to speak with a member of our team or schedule an appointment online today!