The Link Between Arthritis and Heel Pain

Many people with heel pain may not understand what’s actually contributing to their pain. Because many conditions, including arthritis, can increase your risk for heel pain, it’s important to get the right diagnosis.


At Alpine Foot & Ankle in Sandy and Highland, Utah, we offer on-site diagnostic testing to identify the source of heel pain. Double board-certified foot and ankle surgeon and podiatrist Scott Shelton, DPM, provides comprehensive foot exams in-office.


Dr. Shelton can also request X-rays and other diagnostic imaging tests to assess the health of your heel bone, so he can create the most accurate treatment plan.


How arthritis plays a role in heel pain


One of the first conditions people with heel pain think they have is plantar fasciitis. This condition develops when the tough band of tissue (plantar fascia) that connects your heel to your toes stretches or tears.


However, arthritis can also play a role in heel pain, especially as you age or after an injury. Here’s an overview of different types of arthritis and how they can contribute to heel pain:


Rheumatoid arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack otherwise healthy joint tissues. The attack triggers chronic tissue inflammation in the joints of your hands and feet. Inflammation can also develop in the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) near your Achilles tendon and heel.


This type of arthritis can also wear down the pads of fat on the bottom of your feet that protect your heel from damage. Without this added protection, heel pain can become more common.


Psoriatic arthritis


Psoriatic arthritis is also an autoimmune disease that causes joint swelling and pain. The condition causes inflammation near the heel much like rheumatoid arthritis does.


However, psoriatic arthritis can also cause changes in the health and appearance of the skin on your feet and your toenails.




Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when uric acid levels in your blood increase. The acid can crystalize and form sharp edges that stab the joints of your toes, heel bone, and the soft tissues of your feet.


Managing heel pain from arthritis


Finding relief from the heel pain brought on by arthritis can involve one or more nonsurgical treatments like:

  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Pain relievers
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Shoe inserts and other orthotics

Dr. Shelton can also refer you to physical therapy where you learn exercises to stretch the soft tissues of your legs and feet. Regular stretching increases blood circulation throughout your body and supports your body’s natural healing processes.


If you have early-stage arthritis, you can use preventive strategies like rest and ice therapy to minimize heel pain after physical activity. Maintaining a healthy weight can also take unnecessary pressure off your heel to prevent pain.


When arthritis is advanced or chronic inflammation damages the tissues surrounding your heel, you might need surgery. Dr. Shelton can discuss your options for the minimally invasive procedures he can use to repair or remove damaged tissues.


Call the Alpine Foot & Ankle office in Highland or Sandy, Utah, to schedule a diagnostic evaluation for heel pain or book an appointment online today.


If you do not see your insurance provider, contact our office.



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