Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ

Question:

All my friends think I have plantar fasciitis. But I've had that before and this new heel pain doesn't feel the same. What else could it be?

Answer:

Heel pain is a fairly common symptom with a variety of possible causes. Plantar fasciitis is the most likely diagnosis. But you'll need a medical evaluation to find out for sure.

There are neurologic reasons for heel pain. Pressure on nerves anywhere from the low back down to the foot can cause heel pain. Soft tissue injuries can also cause heel pain. This can include tendinitis, rupture of the plantar fascia, or atrophy of the protective fat pad next to the calcaneus (heel bone).

Fractures, arthritis, and tumors (benign or malignant) can result in heel pain. Peripheral vascular disease (loss of blood supply to the feet) can cause heel pain. This is usually present in both feet but can affect one side first leading to a misdiagnosis of plantar fasciitis.

Your physician will do a work-up to rule out any of these more serious problems. A history, physical exam, and some imaging studies help with the diagnosis. Steven K. Neufeld, MD, and Rebecca Cerrato, MD. Plantar Fasciitis: Evaluation and Treatment. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. June 2008. Vol. 16. No. 6. Pp. 338-346.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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