Heel pain is by far the most common foot complaint in the UK with many thousands of people suffering.
.........."a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel usually experienced when you first get up in the morning or after periods of inactivity"
What exactly causes heel pain?
The most common cause of heel pain and heel spurs is Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the band of fibrous tissue which connects the heel bone to the toe bones. Its function is to support the arch of your foot. A normal fascia tendon is strong and flexible but abnormal stress, excessive weight, age and poor foot function can cause micro-tears which will lead to irritation and inflammation at the attachment of the plantar fascia into the calcaneus (heel bone).
During rest (e.g. when you're asleep), the plantar fascia tightens and shortens. When body weight is rapidly applied to the foot, the fascia must stretch and quickly lengthen, causing micro-tears in the fascia. Hence, the stabbing pain with your first steps in the morning. After a little bit of walking the stabbing pain usually subsides.
Heel pain or Plantar Fasciitis is common in the following circumstances:
- you suffer from over-pronation (lowering of the arches)
- you are over 50 years of age
- you are overweight or pregnant
- you stand or walk on hard surfaces for long periods
- you do a lot of running and/or sports
- you have tight calf muscles
Other less common causes of heel pain may include:
Bursitis - This is the inflammation of the small, fluid filled sacs (Bursa) which are found between tendons and bones.
Fat Pad Atrophy - This is where the fat pad under the heel is damaged due to too much strain. Women who wear high heels a lot are more prone to this.
Sever's Disease - This is more common in children. It is caused by the tightening and lengthening of muscles and tendons due to growth spurts.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome - There is a small "tunnel" by the ankle joint which the nerves for the foot pass through. If this is damaged then the nerves are compressed and this can result in pain along the foot including under the heel.