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Home :: Heel Pain

Foot Heel Pain - Causes and Treatment

Heel pain is common and can be due to a number of conditions. The calcaneus (heel bone) is the largest bone in the foot and is the first to hit the ground when walking.

Heel pain or discomfort of the following types:

  • Contusion or bone bruise - Inflammation of the tissue that covers bone (periosteum).
  • Heel spur - A hard bony shelf as wide as the width of the heel bone caused by repeated pulling away of periosteum from the heel bone (calcaneus). The repeated stress or injury causes inflammation and calcification of tendons and ligaments in the foot.
  • Plantar fasciitis - inflammation of the fibrous band that originates at the bottom of the calcaneus. This hurts worse when running faster or when weight is on the ball of the foot.
  • Heel bursitis (inflammation of the back of the heel) can be caused by landing hard or awkwardly on the heel, or by pressure from shoes.


  • Running, jogging or fast walking.
  • Previous serious foot, ankle or heel injury.
  • Repeated heel injury from any cause.
  • Prolonged standing.
  • Obesity.

Signs and symptoms

  • Deep discomfort under the heel while walking, running or at rest.
  • Redness.
  • Tenderness.
  • Increased heat.


Diagnosis of heel pain may involve a history of symptoms, a physical examination, and imaging tests (e.g., x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] scan). Imaging tests are used to detect heel spurs, stress fractures, and hardened deposits (calcifications) that may contribute to heel pain.


Treatment of heel pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment plan.

Home Treatment

  • Use ice massage. Fill a large styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of foam from the top so ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the heel in a circle. Do this for 15 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a day.
  • Elevate the foot above the level of the heart to reduce swelling and prevent accumulation of fluid. Use pillows for propping, or elevate the foot of the bed.
  • Use doughnut like or horse shoe like padding in shoes, such as cushion pads, homemade felt inlays, sponge-rubber heel pads or shaped pieces of indoor/outdoor carpeting. Put in both shoes, even if only one heel hurts. Otherwise, normal mechanics of standing and moving will be altered and may cause pain in other areas.
  • Try a plastic or rubber heel cup (available at sporting-goods stores and drug stores).
  • Don't walk on toes while treating heel pain.
  • Apply Ice Packs - Icing will help to diminish some of the symptoms and control the heel pain. Icing is especially helpful after an acute exacerbation of symptoms.
  • Wear proper-fitting shoes.
  • Avoid activities that cause constant foot strain.
  • Wear athletic shoes with good shock absorption in the heel, good flexibility and good support to control side-to-side motion.
  • Don't wear everyday shoes with more than 1-1/2-inch heels.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.