The heel bone, or calcaneus, is the largest bone in your foot. And as the largest bone in your foot, your heel’s main responsibility is to support your entire body weight. With great power comes great responsibility ! As you walk, run, and spend hours on your feet, your heel has to support your foot and absorb the impact when your foot hits the ground. This causes a lot of pressure and stress, especially during intense sports events or activity. Sometimes, this intensity and pressure can lead to major heel pain or injury.

So what are the major symptoms and causes of heel pain, and how can you stay on top of your foot health to ensure you’re taking care of your feet and looking out for the largest bone in your foot that does so much to keep you moving?

Major Causes of Heel Pain

Most people with heel pain feel it directly under their foot or just behind it. This is a result of the following most common causes of heel pain:

· Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common reasons for heel pain. When your plantar fascia ligament becomes inflamed, it leads to pain beneath the foot around your heel bone. Like any other foot injury, if plantar fasciitis is left untreated, the condition becomes worse and leads to greater pain in your heel.

· Achilles tendonitis is another condition that can very easily lead to heel pain. Achilles tendonitis occurs when you overuse and strain your Achilles tendon. Because this tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone, any strain on your Achilles tendon will trigger pain in your heel and lower leg. This most often occurs after a sports event or running.

· Like the name implies, heel spurs, or calcium deposits on the underside of the heel bone, can lead to heel pain. They are often a result of the tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone, as well as the straining of the plantar fascia ligament.

· Another cause of heel pain is bursitis, a condition where fluid-filled sacs called bursae become inflamed. These sacs cushion the bones, tendons and muscles in your feet, so when they become inflamed, this causes pain in your heel.

Treatment for Heel Pain

In general, the best way to manage and relieve heel pain is to avoid participating in activities that cause the pain in the first place. Rest and icing the affected area are also best practices when trying to recover. However, since heel pain is a symptom of many different foot conditions, the type of treatment ultimately depends on the condition you’re struggling with and what your doctor recommends.

For example, if the primary reason for your heel pain is plantar fasciitis, rest, over-the-counter medication, and therapy targeted at strengthening your foot arch are all used to help you recover. Once your plantar fasciitis is gone, your heel pain should subside. For other conditions like Achilles tendonitis and bursitis, your doctor may recommend exercises and physical therapy focused on that specific part of your foot. If your condition is serious enough, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the issue, relieve your symptoms, and get you back to your normal activities.