As of 2022, over 2 million Americans seek treatment for heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. The population suffering from heel pain caused by other reasons would only show a greater number. In another study conducted by APMA among individuals generally having foot pain issues, more than 50% of participants reported heels.

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causes of pain in heels plantar fascitis and archilis tendon

What Causes Pain in Heel of Foot

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, which usually affects the bottom of your heels, and Achilles tendinitis, which affects the tendon in the back of your heel.

However, heel pain could also be caused by

  • Tendon injuries or inflammations
  • Bone spurs
  • Bursitis
  • Stress fractures
  • Obesity
  • Excessive standing, walking, or running
  • Malnutrition

Additionally, heel pain in children under 18 years old may indicate severe underlying disease. So please don’t brush it off if your kids complain about heels hurting!

Pain in Heel of Foot When Walking

If you have pain in your heels every time you walk, visit a doctor. If the pain is on the bottom, you might have plantar fasciitis. And if the pain is in the back, you could have inflamed tendons.

You should also check your shoes and make sure they’re the right size and fit. Sometimes ill-fitting shoes or new shoes that haven’t been broken in could hurt your heels too. Ladies — those high heels might be pretty, but they’re not the healthiest for your feet.

Pain in Heel of Foot When Walking Barefoot

People with higher arches or a flat arch get heel pain when walking barefoot more easily than those with a medium-height arch. If you have high arches, find house slippers with arch support. Meanwhile, flat arches should find well-insulated, impact-absorbing slippers.

Also, walking on hardwood, linoleum, tiles, or other solid surfaces barefoot is also more likely to cause heel pain than on soft carpets.

Pain in Heel of Foot After Running

Running in a bad position could cause heel pain after running. You may put too much weight on your heels and wear the skin and tendons down. You can also try running shoes with heel support to reduce heel pain after running.

Pain in Heel of Foot in the Morning

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause behind heel pain in the morning. Overnight while you’re asleep, your plantar fascia shortens. Therefore, when you wake up in the morning, the sudden stretch/tension would often lead to shooting heel pain.

Pain in Heel of Foot and Ankle

If your heel pain shoots into the ankles, you may have inflamed tendon or Achilles tendinitis, an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon. In this case, you should avoid moving around too much, so you don’t worsen the situation.

Plantar Fasciitis could also cause heel and ankle pain, but you would feel the pain be more concentrated on the bottom of your feet.

Pain Near Heel of Foot on the Sides

The most common cause of pain on the sides of your feet is outer foot tendonitis, which leads to pain along the outer edge of the foot. Tendonitis pain feels more like muscle or nerve pain and can sometimes be debilitating.

On the other hand, if you have pain on the sides of your feet but it feels more like a joint pain, you may have sinus tarsi syndrome. This condition affects the ankle and foot and causes instability of the subtalar joint.

Pain in Bottom of Foot Like Splinter

Stabbing pain in your foot could come from ill-fitting shoes that are too tight, excessive running or exercise, or illness. Meanwhile, the most common illness that causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot is Morton's neuroma.

Splinter-like pain could also come from cracked skin and other skin conditions due to cold climate or simply because of the shape of your foot.

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How to Relieve Pain in Heel of Foot

You don’t always have to go to the doctor to relieve heel pain. Plenty of foot pain relief home remedies would work. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Heat therapy with bath salt or essential oil
  • Baking soda soak
  • Massage coconut oil into your heels
  • Ginger steam
  • Ice pack
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Home massages

Food To Avoid If You Have Foot Pain

You need to avoid inflammatory foods as much as possible if you have foot pain, including trans fat, red meat, high-sugar-content foods, and purine-rich foods like shellfish and, sadly, bacon.

Generally, you should maintain a digestible, nutritious, and vitamin-rich diet if you have pain in the heel of your foot. You can also check out our list of best food to eat for foot pain to find more ideas!

Exercise for Pain in Heel of Foot

Place one foot on your other knee, and hold the heel of your foot with one hand. Use your other hand to slowly pull the toes back toward your body until you feel a gentle stretch in the bottom of your feet. Hold for fifteen to twenty seconds.

Next, gently rotate your feet around your ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise. While doing this, you can also gently massage your heels with your thumb and index finger to help loosen up the muscles.

This exercise is easy to do but very effective for heel pains. It’s also a perfect office exercise for those bound to a desk and a screen.

How to Treat Pain in Heel of Foot

If your pain becomes intolerable, we highly recommend you to visit a specialist. OTC painkillers eventually stop working for those dealing with chronic pain, and unattended heel pain may cause more damage to surrounding nerves, muscles, and bones. And, as we mentioned earlier, 

The most effective ways to treat pain in the heels are

  • Massage/reflexology — reduce inflammation, activate blood circulation, and loosen muscles. Perfect for those with or without a real foot disease like plantar fasciitis.
  • Steroid shots — reduces swelling, inflammation, and stiffness. Works great for foot and ankle pain and is non-invasive. Must be ordered by a doctor.
  • Physical therapy — many physical therapy programs can help you manage chronic pain in the heels and ankles. Speak to a doctor or physical therapist to find the program that works the best for you.
  • Y2 foot massager with heat and vibration for heel pain

    Read More: The Benefits of Foot Massage

    Using a Foot Massager For Heel Pain Relief

    Foot massagers with heat and vibration are great for relieving pain in the heels, especially if you have plantar fasciitis or other foot diseases that cause the pain. These massagers let you have customized massages at home whenever you need to. You can even use essential oil in some models for the best effect!

    If you’re looking for a foot massage shop, check out what MIKO has for you! We specialize in shiatsu foot massagers and portable percussive massagers. We also have massagers for ankles and calves if you suffer from diabetic neuropathy and other conditions.

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