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Indiana Podiatry Group
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Questions We Receive Frequently at Our Indianapolis Foot Care Office

Our patients usually come into our office with many different questions. While we are always happen to answer questions, we also wanted to provide answers on our website to some of the questions we receive the most.

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    Heel pain in children can have many causes. Typically, children often develop pain in their heels in late childhood or early adolescence due to inflammation in the heel bone growth plate. This condition usually resolves on its own, but can be sped along with proper treatment. Other causes of heel pain can include sports injuries and bruises to the heel, inflammation of a ligament called the plantar fascia (more common in adults). Tissue strain because of poorly supportive or poorly laced shoes can contribute to heel pain as well. Stress fractures in the heel bone are possible in children but are very uncommon. In very rare cases, some tumors can develop in the heel bone, which may be either benign or malignant cancer. These are quite rare, but should at least be ruled out on exam due to their serious implications.


    Heel pain can be caused by a number of different causes. Most commonly, heel pain on the bottom is caused by a chronic injury to a tissue on the bottom of the arch called the plantar fascia. This condition is commonly called plantar fasciitis, and is often mistakenly known as a heel spur (which may be present on the bottom but is not a source of pain). Other causes of heel pain on the bottom include nerve entrapment or disease, swelling of a bursal pad, bruises, body-wide arthritic diseases, stress fractures of the heel bone, and rare tumors. Pain on the back of the heel can be caused by bone spurs, Achilles tendon disease, or growth plate inflammation in children.


    For the most part, heel spurs have very little to do with the actual presence of heel pain when heel pain is present on the bottom of the heel. While heel spurs are often found on the bottom of the heel bone, they usually do not have a direct role in the actual case of heel pain.
    Heel spurs, whether on the bottom of the heel or the back of the heel, form as a result of traction of some structure, be it a ligament or a tendon, tugging away on the heel bone. In turn, the outer layer of the heel bone starts to develop calcification in the direction of that traction. On the bottom of the heel, pulling of a ligament called the plantar fascia allows for a spur to develop on the undersurface of the heel bone. This spur is parallel with the ground, and does not cause pain when stepped on. What does cause pain is the tugging and eventual damage and inflammation to the plantar fascia itself. The spur is simply a byproduct of this process, and not its cause.