The most common causes of sharp heel pain are fractures in the bone, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and pain due to overuse. Fractures occur when more strain than the muscles and bones of the feet and legs can handle is absorbed by the heel, resulting in a small fissure forming in one of the bones of the foot. A muscle strain or ligament sprain can also result in pain, and it may be due to the same conditions as the fracture. Plantar fasciitis is sharp heel pain that results from the inflammation of connective tissue in the foot. This sharp heel pain often occurs in conjunction with a heel spur.
A heel spur is a formation of bone within the foot that is shaped like a hook or spur. It can cause sharp heel pain if it causes friction within the foot, and it can lead to plantar fasciitis. Very often the two conditions occur concurrently, and one may be the cause of the other. They are not, however, the same condition. Many people have heel spurs that rarely or never cause pain, while other people may have heel spurs that are so painful they must be corrected with surgery. The latter is rare, though plantar fasciitis can be painful, and if it is caused by a heel spur, a visit to the doctor may be in order to determine the best course of action.
Fractures are quite common among athletes, especially runners, though they can occur in anyone. If the body absorbs a blow that the muscles and bones of the body cannot handle, the bones may fracture. Jumping from a height can cause a fracture in the heel, which can cause sharp heel pain. When a fracture occurs, the bone separates slightly, resulting in what is commonly called a hairline fracture. Such fractures often heal on their own, though more severe fractures may require surgery to repair.
Another cause of sharp heel pain can be a plantar wart. This type of growth can occur anywhere on the sole of the foot, and it can be quite painful when pressure is placed on it during a normal walking motion. These warts can occur as a result of an infection; many people pick up such infections from wet surfaces such as the showers at the gym, or the patio near a pool. These warts can be treated with medication, but in other cases, cryosurgery may be necessary to freeze the wart until it dies and decays.