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Foot & Ankle

Severe Heel Pain, Can’t Walk: How to Treat It?

Medically Reviewed by Cellaxys

By Published: February 18, 2024Updated: March 3, 2024No Comments
severe heel pain can't walk
Dr Pouya Mohajer


Medically Reviewed

Published on: February 18, 2024 | Updated on: March 3, 2024

Heel pain is a nuisance, whether it occurs beneath the heel or behind it. The pain affects your mobility and makes it hard for you to carry on with your routine life. Many factors can cause soreness in your heel area, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, heel spurs, and bursitis. 

The treatment for heel pain depends upon its cause and intensity. Mild pain can be easily resolved with rest, stretching, and wearing orthotics at home. But if you ignore it and let it worsen, it may develop into a more severe chronic issue requiring extensive treatment.

Surgery is only recommended in rare cases of heel pain. The best alternative is regenerative treatment methods, such as cell-based therapies and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which relieve heel pain by using the patient’s own cells. 

Heel Pain: How Does It Feel Like?

Heel Pain: How Does It Feel Like?

Heel Pain: How Does It Feel Like?

Heel pain is a common foot or ankle-related issue that limits mobility. It affects more than 2 million Americans annually, including people of all ages. You’re likely to experience tenderness, soreness, and pain in different areas of your heel, such as:

  • Behind the heel
  • Beneath the heel
  • Within the heel bone 

The symptoms of heel pain vary from person to person, depending on its causes. The most common ones include:

  • A bony projection or growth on the heel
  • Discoloration around the heel
  • Bruising, swelling, tenderness, or redness 
  • Stiffness
  • Sudden intense pain after standing up

What Causes Heel Pain?

Heel pain is usually a result of repetitive strain due to jumping, ballet, long-running, or any underlying structural issues within the soft tissues and bones. The most common factors causing this pain include:

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a tissue band running from the heel bone to the foot’s tip. When it stretches way more than its original position, it causes inflammation in the fibers and severe pain in the middle of the foot or where the tissues are attached to the heel bone. 

People who run or walk for prolonged periods are susceptible to plantar fasciitis, along with obese and overweight individuals and pregnant women. Those with structural foot issues, such as high arches or flat feet, are more likely to have this condition. 

Achilles Tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is present between your calf muscles and the heel bone, helping you walk, run, and jump smoothly. Achilles tendinitis refers to the overuse of the tendon that results in microscopic tears in the tendon. 

In this condition, the Achilles tendon becomes thick and weak, causing intense pain in the back of your heel. You may experience restricted motion when stretching your leg or flexing your foot. 

Heel Bursitis

Heel bursitis refers to an inflamed bursa, a small, fluid-filled sac present at the back of your heel. It protects the bones, ligaments, and muscles from injury or trauma. Landing on your heels with force or wearing improper footwear can cause inflammation in the bursa, leading to severe heel pain. 

You may feel pain in the heel or the Achilles tendon. It’s recommended to rest in heel bursitis to prevent it from worsening. 

Heel Spurs

Spurs are the bony protrusions beneath the heel bone. They are calcium deposits caused due to muscle and ligament strain, stretching the plantar fascia, and continuous pressure on the heel bone membrane. Heel spurs are common among sportspeople and athletes. 

Haglund’s Deformity

Haglund’s deformity is the enlarged bony bump on the heel’s back caused due to chronic inflammation. The bump causes intense pain behind the heel, and wearing high-heeled pumps can worsen it. 

Sever’s Disease (Calcaneal Apophysitis)

It is a common disease in children between 8 to 14 years of age, especially those who do a lot of jumping and running. These activities affect the growth plate present in the back of their heels, causing intense irritation and pain.

How to Treat Severe Heel Pain?

Surgery is not the preferred treatment option for heel pain, as it improves over time with some conventional at-home methods. Doctors prefer therapies to enhance foot flexibility, relieve inflammation and pain, and minimize stress or strain on any part of the heel. 

The most common treatments for severe heel pain include the following:

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections work amazingly to treat bursitis and plantar fasciitis. They are rarely suggested for tendon-related issues but are generally ideal for relieving the pain and swelling in the heel. 

Orthotic Devices

Most types of heel pain are commonly relieved with customized or over-the-counter shoe orthotics. These are the inserts that minimize the pressure on the heel. Your doctor may also suggest you wear a splint before sleeping to relieve the morning pain. 

If your symptom persists, they may also recommend a walking boot. You should switch heels or uncomfortable shoes with more supportive footwear for everyday use. You can also use medical or athletic tape for your heel or foot support. 

Pain Relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the best medications for pain relief. Unlike over-the-counter medications, they are only available upon doctor’s prescription due to their high potency. For a better effect, your doctor may ask you to combine these medications with ice packs to ease swelling and pain. 

Physical Therapy

Massage, ultrasound, and physical therapies also relieve the pain beneath or behind the heel and within the heel bone. They break up the painful adhesions within the soft tissue, reducing inflammation and pain. 

Stretching Exercises

Some stretching exercises can loosen up your tight muscles and tendons, taking pressure away from your heels. Make sure to consult a professional healthcare provider to devise a safe plan, or you may end up hurting your heels even more. 

Cell-Based Therapies

More commonly known as stem cell therapies, this treatment method works on regenerative medicine. It extracts the patient’s own stem cells, processes them, and then reinjects them into the injury site to promote healing. 

When the cells are harvested from the adipose (fat) tissues, the process is called Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue Transplant (MMAT). However, when the location is the bone marrow, it is called Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMAC)

At CELLAXYS, both procedures are performed within 1.5 to 2 hours. You can go home right after and experience improvement in your heel pain within a few days or weeks.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

PRP has been an effective treatment for orthopedic, spine-related, and sports injuries, popular among athletes. The procedure also works on regenerative medicine and focuses on the natural healing components called platelets. 

The doctor extracts platelets from the patient’s blood plasma, concentrates them, and reinjects them into the injury site. A high number of platelets in the injury site ensures pain relief, development of new tissues, and quick recovery.

At CELLAXYS, PRP takes about 45 minutes to complete. Our patients report quick and long-lasting improvement in their heel pain after undergoing PRP or cell-based therapies. 




CELLAXYS does not offer Stem Cell Therapy as a cure for any medical condition. No statements or treatments presented by Cellaxys have been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This site contains no medical advice. All statements and opinions are provided for educational and informational purposes only.


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Dr. Pejman Bady began his career over 20 years ago in Family/Emergency Medicine, working in fast-paced emergency departments in Nevada and Kansas. He has served the people of Las Vegas as a physician for over two decades. Throughout this time, he has been met with much acclaim and is now the head of Emergency Medical Services in Nye County, Nevada. More about the doctor on this page.

severe heel pain can't walk

Dr Pouya Mohajer


Pouya Mohajer, M.D. is the Director of Spine and Interventional Medicine for CELLAXYS: Age, Regenerative, and Interventional Medicine Centers. He has over 20 years of experience in pain management, perioperative medicine, and anesthesiology. Dr. Mohajer founded and is the Medical Director of Southern Nevada Pain Specialists and PRIMMED Clinics. He has dedicated his career to surgical innovation and scientific advancement. More about the doctor on this page.

Dr. Pejman Bady

Dr. Pejman Bady began his career over 20 years ago in Family/Emergency Medicine, working in fast-paced emergency departments in Nevada and Kansas. He has served the people of Las Vegas as a physician for over two decades. Throughout this time, he has been met with much acclaim and is now the head of Emergency Medical Services in Nye County, Nevada. More details about the doctor on this page.


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