Heel Pain

Heel pain can range from mild to disabling–it can occur under the heel or just behind it where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone–and sometimes it can affect the side of the heel. Heel pain is a common symptom that has many possible causes.

The heel is the portion of the human body that lies at the bottom rear part of each foot. Its exterior shape is formed by the calcaneus, also known as the heel bone. The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot.

Because it is such a complex structure, your heel can be prone to injury and pain. Our foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Sarah Neitzel, is highly skilled in a number of different treatments and procedures to help with heel conditions, including the latest developments in minimally invasive surgery.

Haglund’s Deformity

Haglund’s deformity is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel. The soft tissue near the Achilles tendon becomes irritated when the bony enlargement rubs against shoes.  This often leads to painful bursitis, which is an inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac between the tendon and bone).

Haglund’s deformity is often called “pump bump” because the rigid backs of pump-style shoes can create pressure that aggravates the enlargement when walking. In fact, any shoes with a rigid back, such as ice skates, men’s dress shoes, or women’s pumps, can cause this irritation.

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Heel Fractures

Most heel fractures are the result of a traumatic event—most commonly, falling from a height, such as a ladder, or being in an automobile accident where the heel is crushed against the floorboard. Heel fractures can also occur with other types of injuries, such as an ankle sprain. A smaller number of heel fractures are stress fractures, caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the heel bone.

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Plantar Fasciitis

Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present. Generally, our feet can take on a lot of stress as we move around throughout the day, but overuse can cause inflammation, or the plantar fascia may tear where it attaches to the heel. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs from the tip of the big toe all the way to the heel. It supports the arch of the foot and absorbs most of the stresses we place on our feet. When plantar fasciitis occurs, the plantar fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain.

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Sever’s Disease

Sever’s disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) is a painful inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. It typically affects children between the ages of 8 and 14 years old, because the heel bone (calcaneus) is not fully developed until at least age 14. Until then, new bone is forming at the growth plate (physis), a weak area located at the back of the heel. When there is too much repetitive stress on the growth plate, inflammation can develop.

Sever’s disease is also called calcaneal apophysitis, although it is not a true “disease.” It is the most common cause of heel pain in children and can occur in one or both feet.

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Heel Pain Assessment in Silverdale, Washington

If you have persistent heel pain that doesn’t improve after 2 to 5 days of home treatment, schedule an office visit with Dr. Sarah Neitzel at Peninsula Podiatry. You can make an appointment online or call (360) 286-0404 to schedule your appointment.