Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are two closely related foot conditions that cause chronic or intermittent pain in the heel or soles of your feet.
Differentiating the two conditions and knowing how they are related to each other can help you understand what you are suffering from, seek the right treatment and reduce the symptoms of your pain. Knowledge is power when it comes to treating and managing your heel pain.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
To comprehend plantar fasciitis, you need to first know about the plantar fascia. This is a thin tissue that extends from your heel bone to the ball of the foot. Plantar fasciitis develops when there is repeated injury, stress and overuse of the foot, which causes inflammation and pain at the plantar fascia.
What is a Heel Spur?
A heel spur is a small deposit of calcium that causes a bone protrusion on the bottom of the heel where the muscles in your foot connect to the bones. A heel spur often looks like a hook extending towards the toes. Just like plantar fasciitis, it develops as a result of repeated strains on the foot, as well as prolonged stretching of the muscles in the heel.
What’s the Difference between Heel Spurs and Plantar Faciitis?
The biggest difference between these two conditions is the area in where the pain is felt. While pain caused by plantar fasciitis is mainly felt all over the heel as a result of overuse and injury of the plantar fascia, pain from heel spurs is mainly localized at the heel bone. Causes of Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs The main cause of plantar faciitis is stress, overuse and injury to the plantar facia. The stress can come as a result of carrying excessive weights, wearing unsupportive footwear, spending too much time on your feet and trauma to the feet. Heel spurs can develop because of plantar fasciitis. When the plantar fascia becomes severely damaged, the body begins to deposit calcium on the bone of the heel in a bid to support the strained fascia. Unfortunately, if not treated early enough, heel spurs can cause permanent damage to your heel. This is why exercise is highly recommended as a method to prevent and treat heel spurs.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
The simplest way to describe the pain caused by heel spurs is a stabbing sensation in your heels. The calcium deposits that build on the bone of the heel are repeatedly stabbing into the bottom of your heel causing pain. You will notice that the pain is worse in the morning, and intermittent throughout the day. Plantar fasciitis, on the other hand, exhibits a broader range of symptoms in the heel area. The main symptoms are swelling, inflammation and redness in the heel and the plantar fascia. You’ll notice that the pain is present for some time before you start to feel the stabbing sensations of heel spurs. It is worse in the morning and gets better as the day goes since the fascia is stretched throughout the day. A dull, lingering pain in the heel is the hallmark of plantar fasciitis.
Treating plantar fasciitis is the best way to avoid further damage to the plantar fascia (which leads to heel spurs). Pain can often be reduced through simple stretches and exercises especially if you spend most of your time standing. It’s also important to use ice pack therapy to reduce inflammation and give your feet some relief. For both conditions, it’s critical to wear footwear that features thick cushioned insoles to envelop and protect your heel from damage. It’s also important that you maintain a healthy weight to avoid additional strain to the facia. One of the most effective ways to treat both conditions is by using quality orthotic inserts. They are very useful in reducing pain for 90% of sufferers and are a great and affordable solution as opposed to surgery. Surgery is mostly used to release the plantar fascia and remove heel spurs. Takeaway Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can sound intimidating- but worry not- with a few prevention tips and proven remedies, your feet will be smiling again in no time at all!