Heel pain is a common complaint. The question is, “What’s causing it?”

Is it plantar fasciitis? A bone spur? Ill-fitting shoes? An overuse injury?

You could experience heel pain due to any of those reasons.

Planter Fasciitis

One of the most common sources of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue stretching from your heel to your toes. It supports your arch as you move. When this band becomes damaged or torn from the pressures of walking or running, it becomes irritated and inflamed, causing pain in the heel where it attaches to the bone. Plantar fasciitis often affects people who have flat feet or high arches. Both conditions place added stress on the plantar fascia band.

People suffering from plantar fasciitis typically experience heel pain when they walk first thing in the morning or after hours of sitting. People who exercise with this condition may feel more intense pain after exercise, due to the additional pressure on the plantar fascia.

Some people find relief from plantar fascia pain by using orthotics. The custom-made inserts are placed in your shoes to support the arch and structure of your foot.

Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are another source of heel pain, though not as common as once believed. Heel spurs affect ten percent of the adult population, but 50 percent of the people who have heel spurs do not feel pain. Heel spurs usually cause pain when they are close to the surface of the skin or are on the bottom of the foot.

Achilles Tendonitis

Your heel pain may also be caused by Achilles tendonitis. Runners who increase the speed or distance of their runs and older people who play basketball or tennis may strain the Achilles tendon which can cause heel pain. When treated early with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications, the tendon may heal without medical care.

If you have heel pain that lasts more than three weeks, you should be seen by a healthcare provider or a podiatrist. Often he or she will recommend exercises and stretches that will help your find relief.