Common causes of heel pain

A sore, painful heel--it's no fun, and it's important to get to the source of the problem so you can get back to your normal daily routine. At Cherry Creek Foot Clinic, Lorry A. Melnick DPM believes education about common foot problems, such as heel pain, empowers Heel Pain patients with self-care strategies and the ability to seek treatment when necessary.

Causes of Heel Pain

Your heel may hurt for many reasons--a sudden injury, a chronic inflammatory condition or age-related deterioration. In his Denver office, Dr. Melnick sees some common causes of foot pain focused on the heel. They include:

  • plantar fasciitis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • gout
  • Achilles tendon rupture and inflammation
  • bursitis
  • stress fractures
  • heel spurs

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the broad band of connective tissue between the heel bone and the base of the toes gets inflamed due to over use, poorly fitting shoes, or simply being on your feet too long. Women who wear high heels and overweight individuals experience this foot pain more frequently. The pain is intense just after getting out of bed and usually lessens after some use.

According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, physicians and podiatrists often prescribe various stretching exercises to relieve pain and increase function. When severe, the plantar fascia may need surgical release or anti-inflammatory injections.

Achilles tendon inflammation affects many athletes, particularly runners--both professional and amateur. An aching pain, along the sides of the tendon that runs from the calf muscle to the heel, characterizes this overuse injury. With repeated injury, the tendon degenerates and becomes enlarged and chronically painful. Orthotics, rest and other home care , and sometimes surgery and physical therapy ease this painful condition.


Heel pain lessens when the injured person applies this 4-step care plan:

Rest the limb. In other words, stay off your feet as much as possible.

Ice the area. A bag of frozen vegetables conforms to the foot. Do this several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Compression in the form of an ace bandage or other first aid wrap controls painful swelling.

Elevate the foot above the level of the heart when resting.

What to Do

Always call your primary physician or Cherry Creek Foot Clinic if you injure your foot and the pain you experience is sudden and severe. Apply the RICE intervention while you are on your way to the office.

If your heel pain is mild to moderate and more or less chronic, brought on by over exertion or just standing too long, apply the self-care regimen. If, however, when pain persists for a week or more, call Dr. Melnick in his Denver office for an appointment. He will examine your foot and take x-rays and other imaging as needed to determine the source of your foot pain. The Cherry Creek Foot Clinic number is (303) 355-1695.

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