Heel pain is a common symptom that has many different possible medical causes. The severity can range from mild to disabling. Pain can affect the side of the heel, occur underneath, or occur where the Achilles tendon connects to the bone.
The calcaneus, also known as the heel bone, is the largest bone in your foot. It is located at the back of your foot, beneath the ankle. The job of your heel bone is to provide balance to the foot and assist in the side-to-side movement of the foot.
The heel is a complex structure that can be prone to injury and pain. Dr. Wawrzynek, foot and ankle specialist at Advanced Foot & Ankle Wellness Center in King of Prussia, PA, is skilled in various treatments and procedures to help with heel pain.
Heel spurs are calcium deposits causing bony protrusions on the underside of the heel bone. They are not always detected as soon as they appear because they do not cause pain themselves. Sometimes heel spurs are not diagnosed until a foot x-ray is taken for some other condition, like plantar fasciitis (painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot). When detected on x-ray, some heel spurs can extend forward as much as a half-inch.
Heel fractures are usually caused by traumatic events, such as automobile accidents or falling from heights (such as a ladder). Other causes of heel fractures can include severe ankle sprains and stress fractures caused by repetitive stress or overuse of the heel bone.
The heel forms a vital part of your weight-bearing ability because your weight ultimately rests on the mechanism of muscle, bone, and tendon that form the heel. The heel also handles the stress of daily activities of walking and running.
One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is sometimes referred to as heel spur syndrome because a heel spur is present.
While our feet can take on a lot of stress throughout the day, 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 goes from your heel to the tip of your big toe. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot and absorbs most of the daily stress placed on your feet.