plantar faciitis

What causes heel pain?

A variety of conditions and injuries cause foot pain, and the most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the connective tissue on the bottom of your foot becomes irritated and inflamed. The symptoms manifest as a sharp, shooting pain in your heel that’s the worst first thing in the morning or after long periods of rest. The cause of this pain is usually tightness in your calf and Achilles tendon that pulls on the soft tissue under your foot.

Achilles Tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel, allowing you to point and flex your foot. Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition caused by irritation and inflammation in your Achilles tendon, usually due to overuse. This condition causes pain and stiffness along the back of the ankle and in the heel.

Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are small, bony growths that develop on the bottom of the bone at the back of your foot and are often a complication of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. These small growths cause pain when you put pressure on your heels by simply standing or walking.


A fracture in the bones at the back of your foot could also cause heel pain. Similarly, fractures in your ankles could cause inflammation and pain throughout your foot, including the heels.

How is the cause of heel pain diagnosed?

Dr. Mbanuzue diagnoses foot pain by taking the time to perform a comprehensive exam. Expect her to ask questions about your pain, for example:

  • When did the pain start?
  • Is the pain constant throughout the day?
  • When is the pain worst?
  • Can you describe the pain? Sharp, dull, stabbing, throbbing, etc.
  • Have you tried any at home treatment
  • Does anything reduce or eliminate the pain?
  • She also conducts a gentle and thorough examination of your feet, looking and feeling for any abnormalities. She may also ask that you walk around the office so she can observe your gait.

In some cases, Dr. Mbanuzue may order diagnostic imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI to identify the cause of your heel pain.

How’s heel pain treated?

Once Dr. Mbanuzue diagnoses the cause of your heel pain, she offers customized treatment to relieve your pain and heal your foot condition. She may suggest you change your footwear or wear custom orthotics. She may also recommend you wear special slings or boots at night to keep your feet flexed--this prevents your Achilles from tightening.

Dr. Mbanuzue takes the time to teach you exercises and stretches to keep your feet, ankles, and calves supple. You may also benefit from corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation in your feet and ankles.

If you’re living with heel pain in the Washington, DC, Metro area, call the friendly staff at In Step Podiatry or schedule an appointment online today.