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Family Foot & Ankle

The Many Causes of Heel Pain

Foot with Heel PainYour calcaneus, more commonly known as your heel bone, withstands a lot of abuse. Standing, walking, running, jumping—your heel has to support your weight and absorb constant impacts all day long. It’s no wonder that heel pain is such a common complaint for many of our patients. Most of us will deal with some form of it at least once in our lives.

However, diagnosing the exact cause of your heel pain—and figuring out what to do about it—can be tricky without help. At Family Foot & Ankle Center, we see patients with a wide variety of heel ailments. Maybe the only prescription you need is a little rest and TLC; other times we may recommend measures such as orthotic inserts, oral medications, immobilization, or in extreme cases even surgery. Whatever your condition, though, we put your needs first and provide the highest quality service and care.

Here’s just a sample of the many types of heel pain we diagnose and treat:

Plantar Fasciitis

This is probably the most common source of painful heels. The plantar fascia, a band of tissue running across your arch from heel to toe, becomes inflamed and contracts during times of rest. As a result, the pain is often worst when you rise from bed—it takes a few minutes of walking for the tissues to stretch out and relax again.

Heel Spurs

The membranes surrounding the heel can tear. If you tear them enough, it may cause bony calcium deposits to form on the calcaneus. This condition is often associated with plantar fasciitis—especially when untreated—but can form independently as well.

Stone Bruise

Landing on a small, hard, sharp object, such as a stone, can bruise the layer of fat protecting your heel. The pain can be quite acute and intense, and there may be discoloration. Fortunately, in most cases it goes away without any treatment—just rest.

Achilles Tendinitis

Your Achilles may be the strongest tendon in your body, but that doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Overuse can cause fibers to stretch and tear, resulting in chronic inflammation. Since the Achilles attaches to your heel bone, the pain can be localized there.


Small sacs of synovial fluid, called bursae, allow muscles and tendons to glide smoothly across bone. If these sacs become irritated, they can form an uncomfortable bump and make movement difficult and painful.

Haglund’s Deformity

Often called a “pump bump” due to the fact that high heel use is a contributing factor, this bony protrusion occurs at the back of the heel where the Achilles attaches to the calcaneus.

Stress Fractures

Repetitive trauma without adequate rest can result in tiny fractures to the heel bone (or other bones in the foot, ankle, or legs). This is common in athletes who play sports with a lot of running and jumping.

Heel Fractures

When a large amount of force is applied to your heel bone, it can break. Some of the more common injuries that can cause a broken heel include falling off a ladder or an automobile accident. If you suspect you have a broken heel, come see us right away since this type of injury often results in a long and complicated recovery.

Remember, heel pain may be “common,” but it is not normal, and there are ways to find relief. If you’re experiencing persistent pain that is affecting your daily life and keeping you from the activities you enjoy, don’t wait—contact the experts at Family Foot & Ankle Center.

We will provide a thorough examination, including X-rays if necessary, to determine if there is any bone damage. Then, we may prescribe oral medication, or perform an ultrasound-guided injection of steroids to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area. We may also recommend orthotic devices to correct biomechanical issues with your step, or just offer helpful advice on where to buy a good pair of shoes. No matter the source of your pain or the treatment you need, we’ll be there to walk you through it every step of the way, so that you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.

Check us out in Cincinnati, Finneytown, Hamilton, and Fairfield, OH, or in Florence, KY. You can reach us at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572.