When Your Heel Pain Isn’t Plantar Fasciitis

Last updated: 08-22-2020

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When Your Heel Pain Isn’t Plantar Fasciitis

Heel pain is one of the most common problems that people ask me about. The heel is comprised of a number of joints and tissues, so it’s no surprise that it doesn’t take a whole lot for it to become painful. When people research their heel pain online, oftentimes they end up giving themselves a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. That can be the right diagnosis in a number of cases, but for many, their heel pain is the result of another condition. Today, we take a look at some conditions that mimic the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Why Is My Heel Hurting?

Plantar fasciitis involves a thickening of the band of tissue under your arch known as the plantar fascia. Statistics suggest that roughly 70 percent of heel pain involves an injury to or irritation of the plantar fascia, but that still leaves 30 percent of heel pain cases that aren’t caused by the condition. So what else could be causing your heel pain?

Here’s a look at some other problems that present similar symptoms and involve pain in the heel region:

Heel Bruise – Did you step on a pebble, miss a step going down the stairs or jump from a small distance? There’s a chance you simply suffered a heel bruise. Do your best to let your feet have a rest while it heals.

Heel Bursitis – Inflammation of the bursa on the bottom of the heel can also lead to pain. This is one of the more commonly misdiagnosed conditions as plantar fasciitis. Heel bursitis tends to get worse with activity, while pain tends to lessen with activity in plantar fasciitis, so this is one way to help determine what you might be dealing with.

Heel Fracture – Similar to a heel bruise, a heel fracture occurs when great force is exerted in the foot. Odds are you’ll know if you suffered a fracture, but it doesn’t always take a lot of force to break a bone as we get older.

Baxter’s Nerve Impingement – This condition involves compression or damage to the small branch of nerves that run on the inside of your heel and onto the bottom of your heel. Physical therapy, a cortisone injection or a nerve release operation can help resolve pain.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is a more complicated form of Baxter’s Nerve Impingement. It involves compression of the set of nerves alongside the ankle, and is handled in a similar manner as Baxter’s Nerve issues.

Heel Bone Cyst– Heel bone cysts are very rare, but they can occur. A cyst in this region can weaken the bone and lead to swelling and pain with activity. A doctor can diagnose the condition with a CT scan, and a biopsy may be ordered to determine if the growth is cancerous. Surgery is typically used to resolve the problem.


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