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What Could Cause Pain in the Back of the Heel?

Causes For Back of Heel Pain

 

Pain in the back of the heel or heel pain is an ordinary foot ailment that may be caused by inflammation, bone changes, nerve compression, and other causes. It usually appears at the bottom of the heel or slightly behind it where your Achilles tendon attaches to the calcaneus; yet in some cases, it can affect its side as well.

If you experience pain at the bottom of your heel, it’s likely caused by plantar fasciitis — a common and very treatable condition. If instead, you feel discomfort on the back side of your heel, that’s an indication of Achilles tendinitis. Additionally, take note if your pain is affecting either the inner or outer side of both your foot and/or heel. Regardless of what type of agony you’re experiencing – relief may be closer than you think.

In the majority of instances, heel pain disappears with no treatment; however, if it continues for an extended period, it can become chronic.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the causes of heel pain and how to effectively alleviate it.

Causes of pain in the back of the heel

pain in the back of the heel

 

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Pain in the back of the heel can come from a single event, like an accidental twist or trip, but it may also be caused by the continual strain and weight that is put on the heel.

Wearing flat shoes can cause the plantar fascia to stretch, leading to inflammation and tenderness that results in pain.

A few of the most frequent root causes of heel pain include:

Plantar fasciitis

Inflammation of the plantar fascia, a robust ligament stretching from your heel to the tip of your foot, is a frequent condition. This fibrous band functions like an arch-supporting bowstring, connecting the calcaneum (heel bone) and toes together.

Plantar fasciitis is a common medical issue, often caused by the unique shape of one’s feet; for instance, abnormally high or low arches may lead to this condition.

Related: Uncovering the Causes of Heel Pain: A Practical Guide to Differential Diagnosis

 

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Heel bursitis

Heel bursitis, a condition caused by inflammation in the fibrous sac behind the heel, is often incurred from an awkward or hard impact upon landing on your feet or due to pressure exerted by footwear.

This kind of pain can be experienced either as a deep ache inside the heel or as an intense throbbing sensation at the back of the foot.

Related: What causes heel pain, and what treatment options are out there?

 

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Haglund’s deformity

Haglund’s deformity is a bony protrusion located on the back of your heel that results from footwear repeatedly rubbing against it and irritating both the bone as well as surrounding tissue.

Ever noticed a bump at the back of your heel after wearing hard-backed shoes or pumps? It’s likely caused by Haglund’s deformity, which is why this condition has come to be known as “pump bump”.

 

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Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) is a painful condition caused by the compression of the large nerve in the back of your foot.

Compression neuropathy is a type of ailment that can affect either the ankle or foot.

 

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Stress fracture

Relentless strain, vigorous exercise, sports activities, or intense manual labor can result in injury. For example, runners are more prone to a metatarsal bone fracture in the foot due to stress than non-runners.

In addition, osteoporosis can trigger stress fractures.

 

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Sever’s disease

Repetitive stresses and overuse of the bone growth plates in the heel bone are responsible for being one of the most usual sources of pain amongst young adults and children.

Sever’s disease is a common affliction among 7-15 year-olds.

 

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Achilles tendonitis

Chronic inflammation of the Achilles tendon, located in the rear of your heel, is known as Achilles tendinitis.

Achilles tendinitis can occur for a variety of reasons, with overuse and injury being the most common culprits. It may also commonly be known as tendinosis or tendinopathy.

 

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Related article about heel pain.

Common Symptoms

Heel pain is quite common and usually occurs at the front of the heel. Initially, it may start as a mild feeling but can worsen over time if not treated properly.

If there is a tear, the pain can be excruciating. At the point of injury, you may have heard an audible popping sound and felt immediate discomfort.

Sites of heel pain

Heel pain can manifest itself in a variety of places, and the causes and treatments may differ between them.

     

      • Bottom of the heel: Health professionals usually label this condition as plantar fasciitis. When excessive strain harms or rips the tendons, it may trigger aches and inflammation.

      • Achilles tendon: Pain in the Achilles tendon on the back of your lower leg may be caused by consistent tension, such as overly-tight calf muscles or a sudden surge in exercise.

      • Side of the foot: Pain on either side of the foot – lateral and medial- can be caused by a wide range of conditions, such as stress fractures, sprains, TTS, and more. Lateral pain typically encompasses the outer edge of the heel or foot whereas medial soreness concerns the interior border.

    Treatment for heel pain

    While the healing process can take time, most individuals see relieving results within a few months with conservative treatments.

    Consider the following treatment options for your needs:

       

        • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are an effective remedy for reducing pain and inflammation.

        • If NSAIDs are not a successful option, then corticosteroid injections may provide an effective solution.

        • Through physical therapy, patients can develop and strengthen their lower leg muscles with a tailored regimen of exercises.

        • The strategic application of athletic taping lends extra support and stability to the base of your feet.

        • Orthotics and insoles can be beneficial in correcting foot deformities, providing extra support to those who require it.

      Home remedies for heel pain

      Home care can help alleviate mild heel pain.

      This includes:

         

          • Rest: To protect your heels, steer clear of activities that may put stress on them such as long bouts of standing or running, walking on hard surfaces, and the like.

          • Ice: For optimum results, place a cloth-wrapped ice pack on the injured area for around 15 minutes; do not apply it directly to your skin.

          • Footwear: A snug and supportive fit are essential for any athlete, making the right shoes an absolute necessity.

          • Foot supports: The use of wedges and heel cups can be a great way to alleviate aches and pains.

        Prevention

        To avoid heel pain, it is vital to relieve tension in the affected area of the body.

        Here are a few helpful tips to consider:

           

            • Make sure to always wear shoes on hard surfaces instead of going barefoot.

            • For the purpose of decreasing stress on one’s heels, striving for or preserving a moderate body weight is key.

            • Opt for heels made with material that can absorb shock and impact, or try out heel pads to reduce stress on your feet.

            • Ensuring that your shoes are a perfect fit, with no worn-down heels or soles.

            • Opt for resting your feet instead of standing whenever feasible.

            • Prior to engaging in any strenuous activity, it is essential that you warm up adequately, particularly when your heels may be intensely taxed.

          Summary

          Heel pain is typically experienced around the bottom of the feet, close to or behind your heel, and even on one side or another.

          Heel pain can be caused by various factors, such as extended periods of standing or running, carrying extra weight, and having tight calf muscles. Additionally, those who have high arches may experience heel discomfort due to the excessive pressure on their heels.

          Initially, heel pain may be manageable but can potentially become incapacitating. Fortunately, it often resolves without medical intervention. To alleviate the discomfort, doing targeted exercises and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) might help in addition to applying an ice pack on your heel.

          To avoid heel pain, wearing proper shoes for support, restricting oneself from standing up too long, and keeping a healthy weight range should be taken into consideration.

          If you’re experiencing intense heel pain, numbness, or swelling in the foot area, it’s imperative to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. A doctor can establish an accurate cause and decide on the most suitable course of action.

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