Approximately 20 percent of musculoskeletal complaints are related to the foot and ankle, which is not surprising considering the functions of the foot:
- It provides a stable base on which the body can stand.
- It acts as a rigid lever to propel the body forward during walking.
- It provides shock absorption for the force generated during walking and running (approximately two to six times an individual's body weight).
Heel pain in the young athlete can originate in the bones (fractures), ligaments (sprains), muscles and tendons (tendinitis), or fascia. Careful localization of the pain can help to narrow the differential diagnosis (figure 1). (See "Evaluation of foot and ankle pain in the young athlete".)
The clinical features and management of heel pain in the young athlete will be reviewed here. Pain in other parts of the foot and ankle pain in the young athlete are discussed separately. (See "Clinical features and management of foot pain in the young athlete" and "Clinical features and management of ankle pain in the young athlete".)
Causes of heel pain in the young athlete include: