Heel Pain


Heel Pain

Heel pain is a common foot problem for many people. It has a variety of causes, but the most common is plantar fasciitis. This condition results from inflammation in the band of tissue connecting your heel and toes on the bottom of your foot.

In many cases, noninvasive treatments such as rest, shoe inserts or physical therapy can help resolve heel pain.

The Aurora Difference

Personalized Heel Pain Treatment

As one of Wisconsin’s largest health care systems, Aurora Health Care treats hundreds of cases of heel pain every single year. Whenever possible, our specialists use noninvasive treatments like medication and physical therapy to treat heel pain. If you need surgery, you’re in capable hands – our surgeons are experienced in the most advanced, least invasive methods available.

People choose us for heel pain treatment because of our:

  • Specialized expertise: We have orthopedic and podiatric experts who specialize in diagnosing and treating foot conditions, giving them a depth of expertise you can trust. Many of our orthopedists have additional training in sports medicine and are skilled in treating sports-related heel pain.
  • Convenient diagnosis: We work to get you in as quickly as possible for evaluation – sometimes as soon as the day you call. And with clinics across eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, it’s easy to see a foot specialist when and where you need one.
  • Streamlined care: All the expertise you need is available in a single, integrated health system. That means our orthopedists and podiatrists work directly with primary care doctors, physical therapists and holistic specialists to help you recover faster.

Symptoms & Causes

Common Heel Pain Causes & Symptoms

Common causes of heel pain include:

  • Plantar fasciitis: The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain on the bottom of the foot close to the heel. Learn more about plantar fasciitis.
  • Achilles tendonitis: This overuse injury is more likely to happen to athletes who do a lot of running and jumping. The main symptom is pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon on the back of the ankle near the heel. Learn more about Achilles tendonitis.
  • Heel spur: This condition causes a bony growth on the heel bone and often occurs with plantar fasciitis. Read about heel spur.
  • Stress fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone that develop due to overuse or repetitive motion. Find out more about stress fractures.
  • Arthritis: An inflammatory disease of the joints, arthritis can sometimes cause heel pain. Find out more about arthritis.
  • Neuropathy: This condition occurs when nerves don’t function properly, often affecting the feet and hands. Symptoms of neuropathy include numbness, tingling and pain or burning sensations.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Heel Pain Tests & Imaging

In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may use imaging tests to diagnose the cause of your heel pain. These tests may include:

  • X-ray: An X-ray is a fast, painless procedure that gives doctors detailed images of your bones and internal structures.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses radio waves and powerful magnets to provide detailed images of bones and soft tissues. MRI is particularly useful for assessing problems with connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments.

Learn more about orthopedic diagnosis.

Heel Pain Treatment

Your individual treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your heel pain. Doctors typically start with the least invasive method possible, resorting to surgery only if other treatments don’t work. Nonsurgical treatment to reduce heel pain and inflammation may include:

  • Rest, ice or special support devices
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications – specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
  • Injections or shots

If nonsurgical methods don’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery to address the cause of your heel pain. Learn more about foot and ankle surgery at Aurora.

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