Heel Pain, Know the Causes and Symptoms

Heel pain affects millions of Americans each year. But not all heel pain is the same. There are plenty of causes of heel pain, often with slightly different symptoms that can help your podiatrist diagnose you correctly and prescribe the proper treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of heel pain.

Plantar Fasciitis

This very common condition presents with pain on the bottom of the heel where the plantar fascia passes under the heel bone. Pain will be significant, particularly in the morning with your first steps as the plantar fascia stretches after the stiffness of sleep. Don’t wait to see your podiatrist concerning this heel pain. Conservative treatments work best when the condition is caught early.

Achilles Tendonitis

This very common condition presents with pain on the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon meets the heel bone. When the Achilles tendon is damaged, usually from a sudden increase in strain such as with increasing exercise, it can cause pain and tenderness in the tendon, extending down into the heel. Treating Achilles tendonitis works best with a full plan from your podiatrist.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

Presenting with a sudden “pop,” an Achilles tendon rupture will cause pain and swelling near the upper back of the heel. If you think you’ve ruptured your Achilles, see your FAAWC provider right away. We can offer emergency appointments if you simply call ahead.


On the back of the heel, protecting the heel bone from rubbing on your Achilles tendon, are small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When these bursae become inflamed and swollen, it causes pain and tenderness in the back of the heel. Poor-fitting shoes, particularly ones with stiff backs, can irritate this area further and increase bursitis pain.

Fat Pad Atrophy

Too much wear and tear can cause the fat pad under the heel to atrophy and thin, losing shock absorption and causing pain. This happens slowly over time, and your risk is increased if you are overweight, constantly wear high heels, or are a long-distance runner. Good news: there’s a treatment for that. Ask your FAAWC provider about Leneva for thinning fat pads.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Occurring due to nerve damage in the feet, this condition presents with tingling, burning, or numbness. It is especially common in people with diabetes. Another cause of neuropathy-like symptoms in the heel is tarsal tunnel syndrome. Your podiatrist can help determine where your neuropathy symptoms are coming from.

As you can see, there are many different causes of heel pain, each presenting with its own symptoms and treatments. Talk to your FAAWC provider today to discuss a treatment plan for your heel pain.

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