The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Think You Have Plantar Fasciitis? Here Are 4 Other Possible Causes of Heel Pain

Posted by on Friday, August 1st, 2014


The heel plays a major role in movement and stability, so it’s no surprise that the causes of heel pain are many. As we discussed last month, common diagnoses include Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendinitis, Bursitis, and Haglund’s Deformity — but that’s not all! These conditions represent just the very tip of the iceberg. Today, our New York podiatrists discuss four other possible causes of heel pain.

heel pain cause
Feel like you’ve got an Achilles heel? Our NY doctors can help you find the root cause of your heel pain.
Image Source: Dr.K via

Heel Anatomy

The heel is a complex body part comprised of:

– The calcaneus (the bone that forms the exterior shape);

– The abductor hallucis and the abductor digit minimi (two muscles connecting the bone to flexors in the big and pinky toes);

– The Achilles tendon (which attaches the calf to the heel);

– The arch (which connects the heel to the forefoot)

Four More Causes of Heel Pain

Upon closer inspection, we may discover your heel pain is caused by one of the following:

– Collagen Degeneration: Plantar fasciitis is defined as the inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue along the arch. In some cases, the fascia has actually degenerated, which can make it seemingly impervious to standard treatments. We used to approach this condition with surgery, but new technology like stem cell injections, platelet rich plasma injections, and high pressure sound waves (extracorporeal shockwave therapy, the Tenex procedure) are picking up a lot of support from podiatrists who are on the cutting edge of technology.

– Rheumatologic Conditions: Gout, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Reiters Syndrome, and Ankylosing Spondylitis are inflammatory conditions that cause excruciating pain, swelling, and redness. Often, diet plays a role in treating rheumatology-related problems. For instance, Reiters Syndrome often occurs following the ingestion of foods contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, campylobacter, or yersinia. Therefore, treatment may require the use of antibiotics to bring down swelling. With a genetic condition like Ankylosing Spondylitis, we may look at a number of medications designed to minimize the symptoms. Gout will require medication to relieve the acute symptoms, but there are many natural remedies we promote for long-term relief. You can read more about our many treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis here.

– Neurologic Conditions: Tarsal tunnel syndrome in the ankle is much like carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist. Nerve entrapment can cause pain and a prickly sensation removed from the actual site of injury. Baxter’s Neuritis involves the entrapment of a little nerve beneath the heel bone that radiates pain in the same spot as plantar fasciitis. The difference is that neuritis hurts all the time — not just with increased activity or first thing in the morning. Surgery is often recommended to release the pinched nerves.

– Trauma: Sometimes heel pain has a mechanical cause. Bone fractures, soft tissue tears, tendon ruptures, and deep bruises are all causes of foot pain. Chronic pounding from participating in a sport like running may be enough to cause damage. Automobile or trip-and-fall accidents that were not adequately addressed at the time can lead to arthritis and the buildup of scar tissue. Some athletes subjected to repeated cortisone injections for inflammation pain relief find that their fascia has weakened over time. We offer a variety of treatments, depending on the actual root cause of your pain (which can be diagnosed with an x-ray), ranging from traditional surgery to Focused Aspiration of Scar Tissue.

Heel Pain Treatment in New York City

Here at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine, we offer many advanced treatments for heel pain, including Platelet Rich Plasma Injections, Focused Aspiration of Scar Tissue, and shockwave therapy. We also have a full staff of physical therapists and podiatric surgeons to cover all bases. Whether you have been suffering in extreme agony with a chronic condition or you just injured yourself today, our Manhattan and Westchester doctors are here to help! Book your appointment today.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.