Heel pain is a debilitating but common experience. Current research indicates that as many as 1 in 8 adults have heel pain. More than half of the participants reported severe heel pain that affects their daily life.
Women have heel pain more frequently than men do. But why? Some conditions and lifestyle choices that cause heel pain are more common in women.
Typical causes of heel pain in women include:
Your podiatrist will be able to develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific heel pain.
Haglund’s syndrome is a common health condition that causes a large, bony lump on the back of your heel. This lump can force the soft tissue on your heel to rub against your shoes. The friction causes localized swelling and pain. Your symptoms may be more prominent while walking after resting. Both feet are usually affected.
Haglund’s syndrome is more common in women than in men. Some common risk factors associated with this condition include:
Your healthcare team may recommend heel pads or heel lifts to help minimize your pain by addressing high arches. They may suggest physiotherapy and stretching as well.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of heel pain. It's found more frequently in women than in men. The plantar fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that serves as a shock absorber to support the arch of your foot. This tissue can become painfully inflamed.
You may notice:
Inappropriate footwear is a major cause of plantar fasciitis. If your shoes have a thin, hard sole and a minimal heel height, you have a higher risk of experiencing heel pain. If inappropriate footwear is the cause of your plantar fasciitis, you can reduce pain by making better footwear choices.
Plantar fasciitis is common in runners. This type of physical activity is hard-impact and puts wear and tear on this part of your foot. Compression sleeves may provide the support you need to alleviate your pain. A podiatrist will be able to guide you to a more appropriate shoe.
Osteoarthritis is another leading cause of heel pain in women. It’s most common in your hands, hips, and knees, but it can also develop in your heel. Caused by wear and tear within the joints, the cartilage between your bones can break down. Your bones can grind back and forth once the cartilage wears away.You may notice stiffness, pain, and swelling in your heel.
Your healthcare team may recommend:
In some cases, you may need surgery to find long-term pain relief.
Heel spurs are bony growths that stick out from the back of your heels. These are actually calcium deposits that build up and harden into bone. Repetitively bumping the back of your heels can cause this painful condition. Overtime, your pain may increase as the pointy bone growth continues to irritate the surrounding tissue.
Osteoarthritis is another leading cause. As the cartilage between bones disappears, the friction of bone-on-bone rubbing causes trauma to the area. Your body sends calcium to your heel in an attempt to repair the damage. This build-up of calcium causes your bone spurs.
You can manage your heel spurs by:
While bone spurs are a long-term issue, there is good news. In the majority of cases, the pain caused by bone spurs is managed without surgery.
Women may be more prone to weight gain than men. Motherhood, along with certain types of birth control interventions, can cause weight gain in women. Recent research indicates that weight gain puts more pressure on your feet. As you walk around, your feet have to support additional weight. This increased pressure translates into more pain. Losing weight can dramatically decrease your foot and heel pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions on heel pain? You’re not alone. Read on to learn about our most frequently asked questions.
Do High Heels Cause Heel Pain?
Yes, this type of footwear is linked to plantar fasciitis as well as osteoarthritis.
What are the Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?
Supportive, comfortable shoes with arch support can minimize your pain from plantar fasciitis.
What are the Home Treatments for Haglund’s Syndrome?
Oral or topical anti-inflammatory medication along with ice can reduce any swelling or pain caused by the syndrome.
Heel pain is a common condition, found more often in women than in men. Some health conditions that cause heel pain affect women more than men. Haglund’s syndrome is a medical condition that causes a bony lump on the back of your foot. This can irritate the tissue in the area, causing heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis causes stabbing heel pain as the connective tissue at the bottom of your feet wears down with increased activity. Compression socks and certain footwear can decrease your symptoms. Osteoarthritis in your heel is another painful condition caused by wear and tear. You may notice stiffness alongside your pain.
Heel spurs are bony growths that jab into the surrounding tissue on your heels. It’s no surprise that this condition causes pain and inflammation. Women have an increased chance of gaining weight due to motherhood. Increasing your weight can put additional pressure on your feet.
This pressure translates into more foot pain, including on your heels. The good news is that you can reduce your foot pain by seeing a podiatrist and developing a personalized treatment plan. This may include special inserts, compression socks, or a change in footwear or activity level.
Education Differences in Women’s Body Weight Trajectories: The Role of Motherhood
What is Haglund's Deformity? https://www.apma.org/haglundsHaglund’s Syndrome: A Commonly Seen Mysterious Condition
Impact of Routine Footwear on Foot Health: A Study on Plantar Fasciitis