Heel Pain Causes – Where and How It Hurts Matters

May 24, 2022

When you have heel pain, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Being unable to walk without experiencing pain can significantly limit your activities and your quality of life. Several conditions can cause pain in your heel, and the location and type of pain you’re feeling can help you identify the problem. New advancements in medicine have presented nonsurgical treatment options that can have you back on your feet in no time and without pain.

What are Heel Pain Causes?

There are several potential causes of heel pain. You can figure out the probable cause of your heel pain based on the type of pain and where it’s located.

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis occurs from overuse of the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the calf muscle. It’s most common in athletes who have recently intensified or extended their run and middle-aged adults who occasionally play sports.

Where it Hurts: Achilles Tendinitis causes pain at the back of the leg, and behind the heel.

How it Feels: Mild cases of Achilles tendinitis start as a minor ache, but if it’s left untreated, the pain may get worse. If the tendon ruptures, the pain is typically severe.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes. The pain comes from repeated tearing and stretching of the tendon, but the cause is often unknown.

Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Prolonged standing or walking
  • A high arch or flat feet
  • Uneven weight distribution while walking

Where it Hurts: Plantar Fasciitis causes pain in the bottom of the heel.

How it Feels: It’s a sharp, stabbing pain that occurs most often in the morning, as you take your first steps, and then subsides. The pain can also flare up after long periods of sitting or lying down once you stand up again.

Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are a collection of calcium deposits between the heel and the arch of the foot. You may be more likely to develop heel spurs if you have plantar fasciitis.

Where it Hurts: Heel spurs cause pain in the bottom of the heel. You might even see a protrusion where the heel spur is located.

How it Feels: It starts like a sharp pain, that may feel warm, then becomes a dull ache throughout the day.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are small cracks that form in a bone (or bones) because of repeated overuse.

Where it Hurts: Stress fractures cause pain in or around the heel bone.

How it Feels: It often feels most tender in one spot of the heel and is painful to the touch. The pain may radiate to the surrounding areas.


Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the fluid-filled sack, called the bursa, at the back of the heel bone. It’s caused by overuse of the ankle by walking, running, or jumping, which causes the bursa to become irritated and swell. Bursitis is often linked to Achilles tendinitis.

Where it Hurts: Bursitis causes pain in the back of the heel.

How it Feels: The pain occurs when walking, running, or when something touches it. It may get worse when standing on tiptoes. The skin at the back of the heel usually is red and warm.

Podiatrist treating heel pain causes

Treatments for Heel Pain

Surgery was once believed to be the best solution for many conditions that cause heel pain. Now, there are nonsurgical treatments available that are minimally invasive, painless, and highly effective at quickly healing feet, so that you can get back to your regular activities free from pain.

MLS Laser Therapy

Multi-wave Locked System (MLS) laser therapy is a type of light therapy that relieves pain and inflammation and promotes soft tissue repair.

MLS laser therapy involves the use of two wavelengths simultaneously:

  1. A continuous 808-nanometer laser reduces swelling and inflammation.
  2. A pulsed 905-nanometer laser relieves pain from deep inside the tissue.

These wavelengths work better together than they do apart by stimulating enzyme production, ATP synthesis, collagen production, and increasing vasodilation and lymphatic drainage, which results in tissue repair that occurs 30% faster. The average treatment plan consists of 6 to 12 sessions that last 10 to 12 minutes each and are virtually painless. Most patients notice results in 1 to 3 sessions.

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are corrective shoe inserts made specifically to treat your feet. They redistribute your weight while walking, running, and jumping, and can prevent the development of structural abnormalities that can cause significant pain.

The process of getting custom orthotics starts with having your feet assessed. Our doctor will ask what kind of pain you’re experiencing and what types of activities you participate in, followed by a range of motion assessment, a weight-bearing assessment, and gait analysis.

We will then take impressions of your feet and pair that with your answers to our questions. This information is used to make orthotics that are for your unique feet. Daily wear of your custom orthotics gives your feet optimal support and prevents a variety of painful conditions.

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine refers to treatments that promote your body’s natural healing process. One of the regenerative treatments for heel pain uses platelet-rich plasma (PRP). A vial of the patient’s blood is taken and put into a centrifuge, which separates the PRP from the red blood cells. Injecting PRP into damaged tissue triggers your body to release stem cells, which promote healing, and the alpha granules in platelets help stimulate the growth of new tissue.

Another regenerative treatment for heel pain is amniotic cell therapy using concentrated stem cells obtained from amniotic fluid. The stem cells are injected into the damaged tissue to boost the body’s natural healing process and repair the damaged tissue more quickly.

Contact Us for Heel Pain Treatment Today

If you have heel pain and want to learn more about effective nonsurgical treatment options, our podiatrists and staff are happy to answer your questions and help you find relief from foot and ankle pain. Book your appointment today by contacting Advanced Ankle & Foot and start your journey towards getting rid of heel pain.