A single or specific injury typically does not cause heel pain. Usually it is caused by a repetitive activity, and it begins as mild pain that gradually becomes worse. Frequently the pain will resolve itself, but it can become chronic and may need treatment.
The location of the pain may indicate its cause. The most common causes are plantar fasciitis, which causes pain under the heel, and achilles tendinitis, which causes pain behind the heel or on the inner or outer sides of the heel. There are several other causes, however, and most result from repetitive stress or overuse. Your doctor can help with a diagnosis.
Causes of heel pain:
Achilles tendinopathy – Repeated tears and injuries to the achilles tendon. Click here for more detail
Heel bursitis – Swelling and inflammation in the bursa at the back of the heel, often caused by pressure from shoes. Symptoms include pain deep in the heel or at the back of the heel and swelling of the achilles tendon.
Heel bumps – Sometimes called pump bumps, they are caused by excessive rubbing from shoes on a heel bone that is not fully developed. They most commonly occur with teens who begin wearing high heels at a young age.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome – Repeated pressure causes the tibial nerve at the back of the ankle to become pinched, leading to pain or tingling through the ankle and into the heel.
Chronic inflammation of the heel pad – Heavy steps or pounding to the heels, compounded by thin tissue on the heel pad can lead to inflammation and severe pain in the heel.
Stress fracture – Most common in athletes or manual laborers, stress fractures can produce chronic pain in the heel. Those suffering from osteoporosis also are susceptible.
Severs disease – Usually seen in children ages 7 to 15, this is an overuse injury to the growth plates in the heel bone. Child athletes who experience repetitive trauma to the feet are most susceptible.