Heel Pain: Diagnosis and Management

Priscilla Tu
American Family Physician 2018 January 15, 97 (2): 86-93
The differential diagnosis of heel pain is extensive, but a mechanical etiology is the most common. The specific anatomic location of the pain can help guide diagnosis. The most common diagnosis is plantar fasciitis, which leads to medial plantar heel pain, especially with the first weight-bearing steps after rest. Other causes of plantar heel pain include calcaneal stress fractures (progressively worsening pain after an increase in activity or change to a harder walking surface), nerve entrapment or neuroma (pain accompanied by burning, tingling, or numbness), heel pad syndrome (deep, bruise-like pain in the middle of the heel), and plantar warts. Achilles tendinopathy is a common cause of posterior heel pain; other tendinopathies result in pain localized to the insertion site of the affected tendon. Posterior heel pain can also be attributed to Haglund deformity (a prominence of the calcaneus that may lead to retrocalcaneal bursa inflammation) or Sever disease (calcaneal apophysitis common in children and adolescents). Medial midfoot heel pain, particularly with prolonged weight bearing, may be due to tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by compression of the posterior tibial nerve. Sinus tarsi syndrome manifests as lateral midfoot heel pain and a feeling of instability, particularly with increased activity or walking on uneven surfaces.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"