Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are two of the most common causes of heel pain – but there are other conditions that may cause pain in the heel and arch of the foot.
If you’ve read the symptoms of plantar fasciitis or tried the common home remedies and it just doesn’t seem to fit, here are five other conditions you may be experiencing.
1. Bursitis of the Heel
Bursitis affects the bursae, which cushion and lubricate major joints of the body. Some people get bursitis of the heel, which occurs when the retrocalcaneal bursa becomes inflamed and irritated.
Unlike plantar fasciitis, pain from bursitis of the heel is usually felt in the back of the heel where it meets the Achilles tendon, not on the bottom of the foot. The skin may also be red, tender, and warm to the touch.
Treatments for Bursitis of the Heel
Treatment for mild bursitis is very similar to that of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Rest and ice are the first options to consider when you are experiencing pain. Shoe inserts can also help reduce and prevent pain from bursitis because they cushion the heel and reduce the impact from exercise.
2. Osteomyelitis of the Heel
Osteomyelitis of the heel is a bone infection caused by microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. It is more common in children because of accelerated bone growth, and can also be associated with diabetes.
Osteomyelitis of the heel not only causes localized pain in the joint, but may also have accompanying symptoms of infection like fever and lethargy.
Treatments for Osteomyelitis of the Heel
If you suspect that you may have osteomyelitis, it is important that you visit a physician or podiatrist as soon as possible. Medical treatments include antibiotics and surgery to remove infected tissues.
3. Haglunds Deformity
Haglunds deformity, also known as “pump bump” is the enlargement of the back of the heel bone. It results when the Achilles tendon is caught between the heel bone and the back of the shoe, causing irritation and pain.
Pain from Haglunds deformity can be felt in the back of the heel near the Achilles tendon, and may also involve redness, swelling, and tenderness.
Treatments for Haglunds Deformity
Pain from Haglunds deformity can usually be controlled with anti-inflammatory medications, proper footwear, and icing the area. Orthotics can also help improve positioning of the foot and controlling movement within the shoe, which can also help reduce symptoms.
4. Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Posterior tibial tendonitis involves the irritation of the posterior tibial tendon. Pain is often experienced with movements involving pushing off from the ground such as walking, running, and jumping.
If you have posterior tibial tendonitis, you may feel pain in the inside of your foot, heel, ankle, and even up a few inches into your shin.
Not sure if you have posterior tibial tendonitis? Try standing on one foot and raising your heel off the floor. If you experience difficulty and pain, you probably have posterior tibial tendonitis.
Treatments for Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Treatment for posterior tibial tendonitis includes rest, and supportive footwear or shoe inserts to support your arches. Calf and ankle stretches, and strengthening exercises for the posterior tibial tendon can also provide short and long-term relief.
Overpronation can cause plantar fasciitis, but it can also cause a variety of other foot, heel, and leg conditions as well. Overpronation is when your foot rolls too far inward, which decreases the foot’s efficiency in absorbing shock and puts excess force on the inner toes.
Pain from overpronation may include heel pain, bunions or pain in the big toe, and tightness in the muscles of the leg. If you suspect you have overpronation, take a look at the tread on your shoes. Most people with overpronation will see unusual wear patterns on the tread, with heavier wear on the inside edge of the sole.
Treatments for Overpronation
Common treatment options for overpronation are orthotic inserts and stretching. Heel and leg pain can often be eased by stretching the foot and calf muscles, and exercising the foot can add stability and prevent future pain.
Having a better idea of what’s really wrong with your heels can help you narrow down a more effective treatment. While plantar fasciitis is the most common heel pain condition, there are many other causes that are lesser-known. When in doubt, talking to your doctor about your heel pain should help you get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.