The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the back of the leg. This tendon is used heavily during high-impact exercises, such as running, racquetball or tennis. Sometimes, due to overuse, the tendon and its surrounding structures can become inflamed at its attachment to the back of the foot, resulting in heel pain.
Bursae are tiny fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between muscles, joints and tendons in the feet. Excessive pressure or prolonged movement can lead to inflammation of the bursae located behind the heel thus causing pain.
Inflammation due to an underlying condition, such as tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, can lead to an outgrowth of bone on the bottom, or the back, of the heel bone. This is classically referred to as a "heel spur". It is increasingly accepted that only in rare instances does the actual spur of bone cause pain. It is more likely the initial condition that lead to the growth of the spur in the first place that actually causing the patient's pain.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
When the tibial nerve in the back of the foot is compressed or pinched it can lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Possible causes might be overpronation, inflammation in the area or chronic diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis.
An uncommon cause of heel pain, stress fracture of the heel bone or calcaneus usually develops as a result of rigorous sports, exercise or prolonged weight bearing. Long distance runners are most likely to suffer from a stress fracture.
This is a very common heel injury in growing children. Sever’s disease is a painful bone condition that develops as a result of repetitive trauma on the growth plates of the heel bone.
Inflammation Of The Heel Pad
Sometimes, the heel pad can wear out due to heavy impact, obesity, or advanced age. This can also lead to chronic heel pain. In addition, other possible causes of heel pain include bone contusion (bruise), gout, bone cysts and tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, osteomyelitis and neuromas.
Symptoms Of Plantar Fasciitis
The typical symptoms of plantar fasciitis present themselves gradually. In most cases, pain is felt on the bottom of the heel. Discomfort can also extend into the arch. The pain is most intense when resuming activity after rest and tends to decrease with continued motion. Plantar fasciitis can also worsen at the end of the day after long periods of standing or walking. Swelling, inflammation and stiffness are other symptoms that may be associated with this type of heel pain.