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Little Known Causes of Chronic Heel Pain

Sep 01, 2023
Heel pain makes it difficult to do simple tasks like walking or standing in place — but why is it happening? Please keep reading to discover common and uncommon causes of heel pain and what to do about it when it strikes.

It's no surprise that your feet undergo a lot of wear and tear as they support the weight of your body daily. Being active in sports or exercise increases the load on your feet, especially regarding the heels.

Heel pain has many causes, some more common than others. If you're living with chronic heel pain, you must get to the bottom of the problem for long-term relief.

Dr. Daniel Cairns and the team at Toe-Tal Foot and Ankle Care are experts in various foot and ankle conditions, including chronic heel pain.

Dr. Cairns is a board-certified podiatrist who offers personalized care and diagnostic tools to determine what's causing your heel pain for fast and efficient relief of your symptoms.

Understanding heel pain

Heel pain is a common problem, affecting over two million people in the United States yearly. Anyone of any age can experience short-term or chronic heel pain for various reasons, including injury and poor posture.

People with heel pain may have discomfort underneath or behind the foot. The cause of heel pain determines the symptoms, which may include:

  • Extreme pain after standing
  • Stiffness of the heel
  • Swelling of the heel and foot
  • Bony or lumpy growth
  • Redness or bruising
  • Tenderness to touch

Heel pain can be either mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how long you've had it and the root cause of the problem. It often causes difficulty in everyday activities like walking or climbing stairs.

The good news is that Dr. Cairns can usually treat most heel pain without surgery. He offers physical therapy, injections, and orthotic devices as nonsurgical treatment methods.

What causes heel pain?

There are two major causes of chronic heel pain — Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Both conditions are prevalent causes of heel pain but are not the only reason it develops. Understanding the other possible contributors to heel pain is vital to get the proper treatment.

A few of the less-known causes of chronic heel pain include the following conditions:

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the body attacks the lining of the joints, causing pain and inflammation. RA can affect any joint, including the heel and foot.

Paget's disease

Paget's disease is a disorder where the bones grow larger in the body and become misshapen and brittle. It sometimes leads to easy fractures, especially in the foot and heel.


Bursae are fluid-filled pockets that line the joints in the body and provide cushioning and protection. When they become inflamed, bursitis is the result, causing pain and inflammation around the joint.

Haglund's deformity

Haglund's deformity is a large bump or deformity behind the heel bone. Wearing shoes that rub the back of the heel frequently cause this problem, leading to chronic heel pain and discomfort.


A severe bone infection can happen in any of the joints or bones in your body. Osteomyelitis isn't common, but it is a cause for concern for chronic heel pain that doesn't have another answer.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome results when the posterior tibial nerve becomes damaged or inflamed. It causes sharp pain in the foot and heel and tingling in the toes.

Peripheral neuropathy

People living with diabetes and other chronic health problems can experience peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves in the legs and feet.

Peripheral neuropathy can cause extreme pain in the foot and heel, along with numbness or pins and needles sensations.

Dr. Cairns evaluates your symptoms and performs diagnostic testing to get to the bottom of your heel pain and provide you with the proper treatment for long-term relief.

Call us at 817-518-7348 to make an appointment with Dr. Cairns for chronic heel pain, or book an appointment online today.