Heel Pain 

Introduction
Your heels bear tons of pressure each day when you stand and walk.  It’s no wonder that heel pain is a common complaint.  Heel pain occurs for a variety of reasons, from wearing the wrong type of shoes to abnormal growths or tendon problems.  Fortunately, most cases of heel pain can be treated without surgery.  Talk to you doctor if you have heel pain.  Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent bigger problems.

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Anatomy
Your heel bone is called the calcaneus.  It helps to bear and distribute your body weight across your foot when you stand or walk.  Many soft tissues that help move and shape the foot are attached to the calcaneus. 

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Causes
Heel pain occurs for various reasons.  Common causes of pain beneath the heel include bruising from stepping on something hard, inflamed connective tissue from overuse (plantar fasciitis), and irritated nerves under the heel.  Rubbing from poorly fitted shoes, inflamed connective tissue (bursitis), or an inflamed tendon (Achilles tendon) most frequently cause pain behind the heel.

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Symptoms
Symptoms of heel pain vary depending on the cause.  It may develop gradually or occur suddenly.  It may be accompanied by redness, thickened skin, or swelling.

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Diagnosis
Your doctor will review your medical history and examine your heel to determine the cause of your pain.  X-rays will be taken to check for bone abnormalities.

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Treatment

Treatment for heel pain depends on several factors, including the cause and extent of the underlying condition.  In many cases, rest, physical therapy, pain relievers, injections, proper shoes, and sole inserts can relieve symptoms.  When such treatments fail, surgery may be recommended.

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Surgery
Surgery may be used to relieve pressure from a nerve, remove an abnormal bone growth, or treat an inflamed tendon.  Most surgeries for heel pain are performed as outpatient procedures.  Following surgery, you will most likely participate in physical therapy to regain strength and motion.

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Recovery
Recovery is an individualized process and depends on your condition and the treatment you received.  Your doctor may recommend that you wear customized shoe inserts or orthopedic shoes.  Your doctor will let you know what to expect.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.