In between your ankle and the front of your foot, your heel is a vulnerable area. Conditions that cause foot and ankle pain often affect the heel as well. Pain on the inside of your heel below the ankle is a specific sensation that can be caused by various factors. Like other kinds of chronic pain, it is important to treat heel pain quickly. The heel plays a crucial role in supporting your weight and enabling movement. This can make intense heel pain debilitating. The first step of the treatment process is to identify the underlying causes. The heel is a complex area — bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles all work together to keep the heel functioning. A physical therapy evaluation can be a great way to learn more about your symptoms and condition. To understand what might be causing the pain on the inside of your heel below the ankle, it can help to learn about some possible causes.
Potential causes of pain on the inside of the heel below the ankle
- Plantar fasciitis — Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs under your foot from the heel to the toes. This tissue helps support the arch of the foot and provides stability when walking. If your plantar fascia is inflamed, it can cause pain below the ankle around the inside of your heel. Small tears in the fascia can also lead to heel pain. This is often felt as a stabbing sensation that develops as you walk.
- Heel spur — A heel spur is a bony growth on the heel bone. These spurs tend to develop on the underside of the bone as calcium deposits build up in this area. Heel spurs can be caused by various factors ranging from strained foot muscles to poorly fitting shoes. While not always painful, heel spurs can irritate nearby tissue. This irritation can lead to pain on the inside of the heel below the ankle.
- Tendinitis — Tendinitis involves the inflammation of tendons. This condition can affect tendons throughout the body. Strain and overuse can cause tenderness and pain to spread out from your tendons. Tendinitis pain tends to be most intense when walking or running. The heel contains many complex parts. One of these is one end of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, keeping the lower leg connected from the calf to the heel. When this tendon becomes inflamed, it can cause pain on the inside of the heel below the ankle.
- Fracture — Bone fractures can happen suddenly. When someone fractures a bone, they tend to experience a sharp localized pain in the injured area. If you play high-impact sports, you may be at a higher risk for heel fractures. However, an accidental fracture can happen in plenty of situations outside of sports as well. A fracture in the heel can cause acute pain on the inside of the heel below the ankle. After the injury, recovering properly is essential. Physical therapy can help address your fracture with targeted treatment strategies.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome — Tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed. This is a nerve that runs through the ankle near the heel. TTS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome but in the foot rather than the wrist. When the tunnel compresses around the tibial nerve, it can lead to nerve pain in the foot and leg. You may feel a burning or tingling pain on the inside of your heel below the ankle. A physical therapist can help address your nerve pain with targeted exercises and education on proper body mechanics.
- Bursitis — Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae between joints. When these small sacs that work to cushion the joints become irritated, they can cause pain and swelling. The retrocalcaneal bursa is one of these sacs that is positioned around the ankle and heel. Inflammation of this bursa can lead to pain on the inside of the heel below the ankle. To address bursitis, physical therapy techniques can be used to reduce swelling.
Lattimore Physical Therapy can help address your pain on the inside of the heel below the ankle
Inner heel pain can be complicated to manage. At Lattimore Physical Therapy, we can help keep pain management simple and effective. Our expert team of physical therapists can provide personal care to help you succeed each step of the way.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment for your heel pain.