Heel Conditions and Treatments

Discover common causes of heel pain and treatments that can help.

Heel pain can be minor and annoying or severe enough to impact your mobility and quality of life. Sometimes heel pain is caused by injury -- more often, it’s a result of overuse.

Our foot doctors will closely examine your feet to diagnose your condition. Then we’ll discuss your symptoms and treatment options together. We offer non-surgical and surgical treatment options, depending on your condition.

Conditions that cause heel pain

Our podiatrists (specialized foot doctors) treat all types of heel pain, including:

  • Achilles tendinitis: This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body. It connects the heel bone to the calf muscles and helps you walk, run, and jump. Achilles tendinitis often develops due to overuse or degeneration (wear and tear) of the tendon over time. This condition can be painful and can severely limit the ability to walk and run.
  • Bursitis: We all have small fluid-filled sacs called bursae in our joints that act as cushioning for friction and impact. When the bursae become inflamed, the condition is called bursitis. Symptoms may include pain, stiffness, and swelling of the heel and back of the ankle.
  • Haglund’s deformity: This is a bump or enlargement on the back of the heel bone. The Achilles tendon runs over the bump, which may cause pain or degeneration of the tendon. Symptoms may include redness, inflammation, and severe pain at the back of the ankle.
  • Plantar fasciitis: This is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes and supports the arch of your foot. This condition can cause severe pain that interferes with walking and running.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome: The tarsal tunnel is the canal formed between the bump on the inside of your ankle (the medial malleolus) and the ligaments that stretch across the foot (the flexor retinaculum). Inside this canal is a series of nerves, including the tibial nerve, which provides sensation to the sole of the foot. When this nerve is compressed by injury, disease, or by having flat feet, tarsal tunnel syndrome can develop. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, or shooting pain.

Treatment options for heel pain

Depending on your condition, the doctor may recommend you wear a brace or device to alleviate pressure and support your foot. We also may recommend anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, physical therapy, or a combination of these treatments for chronic heel pain conditions.

Severe conditions may require surgery to release a troublesome tendon, relieve pressure, or correct a deformity. The doctor will explain your options thoroughly and recommend the best treatment plan for your condition.

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