| Heel Pad Syndrome
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Heel Pad Syndrome

Heel Pad Syndrome

Heel pad syndrome is a condition that develops at the bottom of your foot due to wear and tear over time. You do not have to be a runner or a basketball player to develop heel pad syndrome, but overuse with exercise is a contributing factor.


Heel pad syndrome is often painful while someone is running or walking barefoot on hard surfaces or participating in hard exercise. However, the pain often recedes when the athlete is at rest.


The Heel


The heel of your foot is a combination of fatty tissue and tough fibrous tissue that is there to protect your bones and give both strength and cushion to your foot. It is not particularly flexible but gives you a cushioned “landing pad” for support when you are walking or running.

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A pain deep under the cushion of your heel is the most prominent symptom of this condition. In mild cases, the pain retreats at rest. In more severe cases, the pain continues even when you are sitting or lying down.




The causes of heel pad syndrome are psychological and environmental. Often it is a combination of both.

  • Aging tends to reduce the flexibility in your heel pad
  • An awkward gait that puts more pressure on a specific area of the heel can lead to heel pad syndrome. If you favor the outside of your foot while walking, for example, the heel cannot distribute the pressure evenly while you walk
  • Obesity is a contributing factor as it adds pressure to your heel
  • Plantar fasciitis can change your gait, making it harder for your heel to distribute pressure
  • Bone spurs can also reduce flexibility in your heel
  • Medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis raises the risk of heel pad syndrome
  • High heels and other inappropriate footwear can be a contributing factor




Podiatrists will look into the elasticity of your heel when you are standing and when you are sitting and compare the two. The heel pad should compress when you are standing. With heel pad syndrome, the heel does not compress as much as it should. The compression factor can be compared to the softness of a pillow. With more compression available, the cushioning effect is improved. (And, yes, technically you are about 2 centimeters longer when you are lying down as compared to when you are standing up.)




There are various options for treatment, including the use of over-the-counter pain medication, ice, and orthopedic footwear. Foot and ankle specialists in Phoenix, Arizona are on hand to guide you on your treatment options.


  • Ice packs that relieve pain and reduce swelling can be used. The standard practice is to apply ice on and off at 15-minute intervals.
  • Orthopedic footwear is often used to take some pressure off of your heel.
  • Heel cups are used to reduce pressure on the heel. They are designed to give your heel more support, thus subtracting a bit from the weight they carry.
  • Rest is also advised.


At Oasis Foot and Ankle Center, our specialty is providing top care for your health concerns related to sport and medical conditions of the feet. Call 602-993-2700 to see the best podiatrist in Phoenix for an appointment today.

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