Your feet carry you wherever you need to go. The bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet all work together to support your body and propel you forward with every step — but you probably don’t give much thought to your feet as you move through life.

Taking steps is easy to take for granted. That is, until foot pain strikes. Heel pain alone affects nearly 2 million Americans annually, and some of the most common causes have the power to make every step painful and change your gait.

Fortunately, professional foot care can make a big difference and prevent that pain from causing complications. Bryon Butts, DPM, and our team at Performance Footcare PC in Lake Success and New York, New York, specialize in heel pain, and we’re here to help you find relief.

The top causes of heel pain

Your heel is the largest bone in your foot. It supports most of your body weight and absorbs most of the shock when you stand, walk, and run.

Three of the most common causes of heel pain are:

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis develops when the plantar fascia, the band of tissue on the bottom of your foot, gets inflamed. The plantar fascia connects your toes to your heel, and inflammation makes the tissue tight and painful.

Heel pain is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis. The pain is often worse after periods of rest, which means your first steps each morning can cause sharp, stabbing pain in your heel and along the sole of your foot.

Plantar fasciitis pain can make it difficult to fully flex your foot. As a result, you may take shorter, more tentative steps than you did before the condition developed.


Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects 24% of American adults. It’s characterized by joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. It can develop in any joint of your body, including your heels and feet.

Arthritis can make the small joints in your feet swollen and painful. As it progresses, joints may stiffen, which makes your feet less flexible when you walk. You might find that you take smaller steps, shift your weight, or limp to compensate. Arthritis in other weight-bearing joints, like your hips and knees, can also alter your gait.

Achilles tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Tendonitis is an injury that makes the tendon tender, painful, and tight. It’s most common among athletes, but anyone can get Achilles tendonitis from strain or overuse.

Like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis pain is often worse when you first start walking in the morning. You may also notice stiffness in your heel and ankle, reduced range of motion, and slowed walking speed.

What to do about heel pain

If you have heel pain, a professional evaluation is essential. Ignoring the pain can make you compensate by changing your gait, and if that happens, your risk of complications is higher.

An abnormal gait puts extra stress on other parts of your feet and ankles. You could be more likely to suffer another injury or develop chronic foot problems like pronation or hammertoes.

Dr. Butts and our team diagnose the cause of your pain with a comprehensive exam. We may also ask you to walk around while we observe your gait. Depending on your diagnosis, we choose the best treatment methods to resolve your symptoms and protect your gait.

Some of the most effective treatments for heel pain include rest, physical therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, amniotic stem cell injections, and noninvasive treatments like radial shockwave therapy and extracorporeal pulse activation technology (EPAT).

With your pain better managed, you can take steps more comfortably and confidently. Schedule your first appointment at Performance Footcare PC online or call the office nearest you today.

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