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Heel Pain

What is heel pain, and what causes it?

Heel pain may develop when you pound your feet on hard surfaces playing sports or wear shoes that irritate sensitive tissues. Usually with rest, sore heels will resolve themselves. However, when you ignore the pain and continue partaking in activities that worsen the pain, this can result in chronic pain. Heel pain can generally be divided into two categories: pain beneath the heel and pain behind the heel.

Pain beneath the heel

Pain beneath your heel may be the result of:

  • Bruising:

    It may be possible that you’ve recently bruised your heel, by stepping on a hard object like a stone. You can experience bruising pain, even if there is no obvious discolouration.

  • Plantar fasciitis:

    One of the most common causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis can be a very painful condition. It is caused by inflammation in the tissue that connects the base of your toes to your heel bone. It is generally most painful in the morning after waking up and tends to get worse as the condition persists.

  • Heel spur:

    Heel spurs are bony protrusions that can form when you have plantar fasciitis for a long time.

Three quarter side view of a raised foot with a red starburst on the arch.

Pain behind the heel

Pain behind your heel may be the result of over-exerting yourself while running, or wearing shoes that rub or cut into the back of the heel.

Pain behind the heel may build slowly over time, causing the skin to thicken, redden, and swell. A bump on the back of the heel, that feels tender and warm to the touch, may develop. This type of pain will generally flare up at the start of an activity and often hurts too much to wear normal shoes.

Side view of a flat bare foot with a red starburst behind the heel, or the Achilles tendon area.