Heel Pain ― How to Tell When It’s More Than Just Plantar Fasciitis

Heel Pain ― How to Tell When It’s More Than Just Plantar Fasciitis

If you’ve been experiencing pain in your heel when you walk, you might assume you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions that causes heel pain.

However, experiencing heel pain doesn’t always mean you have plantar fasciitis. According to Dr. Thomas Rambacher and Dr. Michael Bastani, board-certified podiatrists at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle in Mission Viejo, California, other conditions, sometimes more serious than plantar fasciitis, can have heel pain as a symptom.

Learn more about the different conditions that can cause heel pain, and how to tell if your heel pain is more serious than plantar fasciitis.

Conditions with heel pain as a symptom

If you have heel pain, there are a number of different medical conditions it could indicate. These are some of the most common conditions, aside from plantar fasciitis, that frequently cause heel pain.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon that connects your heel and calf muscles together becomes inflamed. It can cause pain in your ankle and heel area from the inflammation in your tendon, along with a swollen tendon. Without treatment, you’re at risk of experiencing rupture of your tendon.


The bursa is a lining of many joints that makes it easier for your muscles and tendons to operate while you use your joint. Heel bursitis causes the bursa at the back of your heel to become inflamed, causing pain in your heel, especially after being on your feet all day.

Spains, strains, and fractures

Fractures, ligament sprains, and strains in or near your heel can all cause severe pain and swelling in the heel, especially when you put weight on your heel. Fractures and some other heel injuries need immediate treatment to heal properly.

Heel spurs

Heel spurs are a bony bump that can protrude from your heel. If you develop a heel spur, it’s common for it to cause pain in your heel, especially when walking.

Signs your heel pain isn’t plantar fasciitis

If you experience heel pain that’s more than minor and occasional, you should always have our doctors at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle assess your heel pain rather than assuming you have plantar fasciitis. This is because heel pain can be a symptom of a serious problem, and even if your condition is minor, we can help you find relief from your pain.

Generally speaking, though, these can be some indications you have a condition that’s more than just plantar fasciitis.

Your heel pain is severe

While plantar fasciitis can be very painful, other foot conditions cause more severe and continuous pain. If your heel pain is excruciating, it can be a sign you have a more serious foot or ankle issue.

Your heel pain doesn’t get better throughout the day

Plantar fasciitis tends to be most painful when you take your first steps right after waking up in the morning, as the inflamed plantar fasciitis is stiff and needs to be stretched out. If your pain doesn’t improve or gets worse as the day goes on, this often means you have a different problem.

Your heel or the surrounding areas are swollen

Plantar fasciitis usually causes pain in your heel but not swelling. Swelling in the area might mean you have a fracture, sprain, achilles tendonitis, or another diagnosis.

You can’t put weight on your heel

If you can’t put weight on your heel, that almost always means you have a problem worse than plantar fasciitis, like a fracture or severe sprain, that needs immediate medical care.

For efficient and skilled diagnosis and treatment of your heel pain, make an appointment at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle online or over the phone.

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