Heard it all? Other causes of heel pain.
Updated: Feb 10
Different causes of heel pain
One of the most common complaints we see in the clinic at Align Health Collective is heel pain. Heel pain can be debilitating as it is an area of the body that is constantly dealing with the pressures of body weight and movement, and is very hard to offload. The heel consists of fatty tissue that acts as a padded cushion around the calcaneus, and serves to protect the structures of the foot, including the calcaneus, muscles and ligaments. Although the most common cause of heel pain is due to Plantar Fasciitis, there are many other conditions that are often misdiagnosed that present with similar symptoms. Here a few examples and descriptions of what could be causing your heel pain.
1. Plantar fasciitis
The most common cause of heel pain, Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia which is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that acts to support your arch. Risk factors associated with Plantar Fasciitis include, flat or high arched feet, overweight, high activity levels and wearing shoes with poor arch support.
2. Calcaneal Stress Fracture
This is a hairline fracture of the calcaneus and is usually a result of an overuse injury. Pain will be of a gradual onset and be aggravated by weight bearing activities such as running and jumping. Treatment often involves immobilisation or activity modification until the bone heals.
3. Achilles Tendinopathy
Heel pain is a common symptom associated with Achilles Tendinopathy, as the achilles tendon which is under strain or stressed inserts onto the calcaneus. Other common symptoms include pain and stiffness first thing in the morning, less pain during activity however pain is at its worse after exercise.
4. Fat pad atrophy/syndrome
As mentioned above, the calcaneus is surrounded by a fatty tissue that helps protect it from direct impact. Over time, this tissue can wear away, leaving the bone relatively more exposed and cause discomfort whenever the heel strikes the ground. Alternatively, the fat pads can become inflamed which is known as fat pad syndrome.
5. Baxter's nerve impingement
Baxter’s nerve impingement is an entrapment of the calcaneal branch of the posterior tibial nerve. It is most common in the active, younger population however can be seen in the general population. Baxter’s nerve impingement is often seen together with plantar fasciitis due to the soft tissue changes of the plantar fascia.
If you have any more questions or concerns regarding heel pain, please don’t hesitate to contact our Podiatrist in Kew, Podiatrist in Oakleigh, or Physiotherapists in Kew on (03) 9853 7836, or book an appointment online at www.alignhc.com.au