3 Causes of Heel Pain

Heel Spur Syndrome

The weather is great in sunny Silicon Valley and due to hitting the trails, you may be experiencing ankle pain. The most common injuries to the heel happen as a result of repetitive striking of the foot on hard surfaces while playing sports or wearing shoes that enhance irritation. If you rest a sore heel well enough, it will usually heal by itself without treatment. Despite the early signs of heel pain, a lot of people ignore it and continue doing the same thing that caused the pain. As you continue to walk on your sore heel, it gets worse until it becomes a chronic condition that causes more pain.

Heel Spur Syndrome

Inflammation of the thick band of tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes can cause stabbing pain near the heel. Treatments can include directed exercises, shoe inserts, physical therapy, steroid injections. In some cases, surgery is warranted.

Where the fascia tissue band connects to your heel bone, a heel spur or calcium deposit may form as a result of plantar fasciitis. As with plantar fasciitis, the treatment is usually resting until the pain subsides, stretching exercises and heel pad shoe inserts. If the heel spur does not cause pain, it should not be operated on unless chronic symptoms develop. On the back of your heel, you might develop a bump, which feels tender and warm. When you begin activity after resting, you may re-introduce pain. X-rays may be needed to determine if there is a bone spur.

Using the insert to elevate the heel of your foot and leaning against a wall to stretch your Achilles tendon can help to lengthen the tendon, which results in decreased pain. This pain and swelling can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Stress Fracture

A microfracture that usually occurs in the heel is due to abnormal stress that has been placed upon it. The most common development is due to an athlete who continues in their training regimen that causes pain around the heel. Stress fractures are overuse injuries that cause stress to the bone that exceeds the bone’s ability to repair itself. This repetitive stress to the bone originates in a short period, especially in an unconditioned athlete.

Rest, ice, compression and elevation therapy works best. Staying off the injured foot is needed to allow the fracture to heal. Ice reduces swelling and pain. Compression treatment with an elastic wrapping or compression stocking, and elevation by keeping the foot even with or slightly above the heart level also helps reduce the swelling.

The next key to healing may be immobilization. A cast or a cast boot may be needed to prevent movement of the fractured bone. To avoid weight-bearing, crutches may be necessary. Treatment usually involves reconstructing the joint or, in severe cases, fusing it. A surgeon will select the most appropriate surgical approach for a patient.


A thick band of tissue called a tendon connects muscles to bones. These tendons allow the movement of joints. The tendons in the foot and ankle provide stability and protection, as well as flexibility. There is inflammation when the tendon swells or thickens. Generally, this is caused by overuse, which causes painful inflammation.
The inflammation of the tendons that surround the ankle joint causes tendinitis. Overworking this tendon can cause an injury; commonly this is from repetitive activities or sports movements that put too much strain on the ankle.

Heel pain can have many causes. If you are experiencing lingering heel pain, contact your ankle orthopaedic surgeon at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics right away to determine the cause and get treatment options from the experts.

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