Heel Pain

One of the most common causes of adult heel pain is plantar fascia problems, however, there are other causes. Unfortunately, these common heel pain issues are sometimes misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis. This is where you will benefit from seeing a foot and ankle specialist (podiatrist) that understands the intricacies of your foot. Here is a short list of the other causes associated with adult heel pain.

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The Ten Most Common Causes of Adult Heel Pain

  1. Calcaneal Stress Fracture – These stress fractures, in the heel bone or calcaneus, are an overuse injury. They’re common in athletes like runners . They often occur with other injuries, including a sprained ankle.
  2. Calcaneal Cysts – These bone cysts may be painful or painless. A painless cyst found when checking your feet for other issues is not that uncommon. Painful cysts are painful because as they grow they press on the surrounding bone. In the ankle and foot, the heel bone (or calcaneus) is the one most affected by cysts.
  3. Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment – This painful condition is hard to diagnose since plantar fasciitis, heel spur syndrome, and entrapment neuropathy are often present at the same time. Often times chronic plantar fasciitis and/or a calcaneal bone spur will put pressure on this nerve causing nerve compression leading to pain.
  4. Short Flexor Tendon Tear – This is a rupture or tears in the main tendons located at the bottom of the foot. The flexor tendon group is responsible for plantar flexing (flexing the ankle) and pulling down the toes.
  5. Plantar Fascia Rupture or Tear – This is a painful tear in the plantar fascia, which is the largest ligament in the foot. When there is chronic pressure or intense acute pressure across the fascial band it can cause the fibers within the band to tear and retract leading to intense burning pain.
  6. Gout – This disease results from an over production or underexcretion of uric acid. Elevated levels of uric acid cause urate crystals to deposit in joints. Joints that are already arthtritic will have a higher chance of being effected.
  7. Systemic Arthritis – This includes psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as conditions such as lupus.
  8. Soft Tissue Mass – The most common soft tissue tumors in the ankle and foot are ganglion cysts. This is a benign fluid-filled soft tissue mass caused by an injury. Soft tissue masses or lumps in or around the ankle or foot are rarely dangerous, however, they can be painful.
  9. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – This problem is caused by anything that causes posterior tibial nerve compression. This is a common cause of pain, numbness, and tingling on the soles of the feet. Tarsal tunnel syndrome develops commonly as a result of an ankle injury. The symptoms may include a burning pain in the soles of the foot which is exacerbated by activities, like walking. Some other symptoms include tingling and numbness at the base of the foot. Common treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, orthotics, and avoiding certain activities. In some cases, steroid injections are useful to reduce inflammation.
  10. Infracalcaneal Bursitis – Directly below the calcaneus, or heel bone, is a fluid filled sac that decreases the friction and pressure between the tissues and bone. Repetitive or prolonged movement and excessive pressure to this bursa sac causes inflammation leading to pain. Bursae are locate in various places thought our bodies where friction between tissues commonly occurs.

If you have pain in your heel, ankle or foot contact your local podiatrist or foot doctor as soon as possible to prevent further injury. Dr. Mikkel Jarman, DPM, treats patients with sports injuries and specializes in caring for adults and children with and foot and ankle problems in the Phoenix area.

Other Causes of Adult Heel Pain

There are other causes of pain in your heel, such as peroneal tendon tear, sural nerve entrapment, and tendonitis/tendinosis, however, these issues are in a different part of the heel making them easier to diagnose.

So, let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis (or plantar heel pain), and examine symptoms and treatments for this common adult heel pain issue.

There are some major differences is adult and children’s foot problems. If you have a child, complaining of pain in his/her heel… Read our article on How Pediatric and Adult Heel Pain Differs.

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For Treatment – Contact Dr. Mikkel Jarman, Podiatrist in Gilbert AZ, a suburb of Phoenix.

Call our office (480) 497-3946 if you have questions or want to schedule an appointment today.