Causes of Heel Pain

Causes of Heel Pain

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Our foot consists of 26 bones and the heel bone (calcaneus) is the largest and the most important amongst them. It is designed to provide a firm support to sustain the weight of our body. When we walk, it supports our entire body weight and at the same time acts like an insulator by absorbing the impact of hitting the ground when we perform activities like running.

Mild heel pain can be short-term and may disappear on its own. However, it can even stay longer and turn into a chronic condition which does need immediate attention. When you walk, the stress placed on your heel may be 1.25 times of your entire body weight, and 2.75 times when you are running. Therefore, the heel is quite vulnerable to damage and very painful.

Here are some causes that could be the actual reason of painful heel:

  • Heel Bumps:

Heel bumps can be also referred to as pump bumps and they are very common in teenagers. When their heel bone is not fully matured and rubs excessively, then it results in the formation of too much bone. It is most often caused by having a flat foot. Among females, it can be caused if they start wearing high heels before the bone is fully matured.

A strong bow-string like ligament that runs from the calcaneus (heel bone) to the tip of your foot is called plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis is nothing but inflammation of the plantar fascia. When plantar fascia is stretched too far, its soft tissue fibers become inflamed. It usually happens where it attaches to the heel bone, but sometimes it may happen in the middle of the foot. Especially after long periods of rest, you may experience pain under your foot if you suffer from plantar fasciitis.

  • Injury:

You may injure your heel bones by placing repetitive stress on them, and most commonly they are caused by strenuous exercise, playing any sport or while performing heavy manual work. Injury to the heel due to stress fractures is a common reason for heel pain in adults. Landing on hard surfaces directly on your heel bone may also result in heel bone fracture.

  • Heel Bursitis:

The protective cushion present between the joints and between the tendon and the bones is called Bursae. Inflammation of bursa at the back of the heel can cause immediate swelling and pain in the heel. It can also be caused by too much pressure from your footwear. You will either feel pain deep inside the heel or at the back of your heel.

  • Achilles Tendinopathy:

Achilles tendon is the largest tendon of the body which connects the calf muscles and the heel bone. Due to overuse of this tendon, those people who are involved in sports that require running and jumping are more prone to inflammation of the tendon. The Achilles Tendon does not function properly because of multiple, microscopic tears of the tendon. The worst part is, it cannot heal and repair itself correctly.

  • Chronic inflammation of the heel pad:

Usually, chronic inflammation of the heel pad is caused either by taking heavy footsteps or the heel pad becoming too thin.

Immediate medical attention should be seeked if you face severe pain accompanied by swelling near your heel. You can undertake home care measures such as resting, using cold compression, massaging, etc. to ease heel pain. However, it is better to visit a physiotherapist who can aid your heel pain by minimizing and completely treating it.