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sharp pain shooting up from bottom of left heel

by Nancy
(San Luis Obispo, CA)

very sharp shooting pain from the bottom of my left heel. It comes and goes, but with more frequency now. Lasts just a few seconds but very painful, like being stuck with several needles on bottom of heel up. I can feel a slight lump on outside bottom of foot.


RESPONSE
Hi Nancy,

Most people would expect pain of your nature to be a "bone" thing but that is not necessarily the case in all cases of heel pain.
One common problem that may cause the type of pain you are encountering is from a growth in the skin. Many times a skin cyst will cause a sharp pain, not necessarily evident on every step you take, but when it does hurt, it can be quite eye opening.
The best way to see if there is any kind of growth on the bottom of the heel is to take a wet tissue and wipe the bottom of the heel which will give you a better visualization of any skin growth that may be present.
If you do see something that looks suspicious, press down on it and see if that causes any pain. If so, then you know you are dealing with a skin issue that is easily remedied by any qualified podiatrist.
If that is not the case, then I would be curious about that lump that you mention of the bottom outside portion of your foot. I realize that is not the part of the heel that hurts but sometimes the source of pain does not have to be in the exact location.
Does pressing down on the lump, or squeezing the lump cause any pain? If it does it could signal a soft tissue mass of some sort. It would be diagnosed by a podiatrist who might end up ordering an mri. I am only guessing here because I would actually have to be able to inspect it to determine if it needs further investigation.
Assuming this lump is not the source of your pain then that leaves us with two of the most common possible causes for your intermittent sharp pain.
The first would be a heel neuroma, which is simply a pinched nerve that occurs on the bottom of your heel. The nerve endings become inflamed from constant walking (along with running and other forms of exercise).
A heel neuroma does not have to hurt with every step but when it does hurt it can be very painful and since it is a nerve pain, the feeling of multiple needles stabbing you in the heel would not be far-fetched in terms of description.
Typically when the nerve is involved in heel pain, if you press on the inside of the heel near the bottom, this too will elicit pain, not needle like pain, but will just be painful. Compare it to the same spot on the other foot and see if they feel the same. If the affected foot is worse, than you may very well have a heel neuroma.
The last most common cause of your type of pain that comes to mind would be a heel bursitis. A bursitis is a small sac of fluid that the body produces to act like a cushion otherwise known as a bursal sac, but sometime this cushion becomes inflamed and it will begin to hurt. The pain with a bursitis also does not have to occur on every step, but again, when it does hurt, it can take your breath away.
The last two conditions I mention along with a few not so common issues that can cause your pain, are problems that you will not be able to take care of yourself.
So, if your pain is as bad as you state, why not make an appointment with a local podiatrist and get an accurate diagnosis and some treatment?

see related article....bursitis

see related article....heel neuroma

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