Patients and doctors often confuse the terms heel spur and plantar fasciitis. While these two diagnoses are related, they are not the same. Plantar fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the plantar
fascia--the tissue that forms the arch of the foot. A heel spur is a hook of bone that can form on the heel bone (calcaneus) and is associated with plantar fasciitis. About 70 percent of patients
with plantar fasciitis have a heel spur that can be seen on an X-ray. However, many patients without symptoms of pain can have a heel spur. The exact relationship between plantar fasciitis and heel
spurs is not entirely understood. Heel spurs are common in patients who have a history of foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
Faulty foot structures such as abnormal growths, different leg lengths, and unhealed injuries and haveinf flat feet or high arches. Muscle imbalances tight, weak or shortened muscles in your foot,
plantar fascia, ankle, calf and hamstring. Over pronation can cause imbalance in foot mechanics which puts excess pressure on the plantar fascia. Poor biomechanics affect the way your foot hits the
ground. If you overpronate (feet roll inward) you tend to have flat feet (pes planus), which increases stress on the heel bone. Regular shoes or high heels that are too tight or don't support your
heel or arch affect the distribution of your body weight on your foot. Health conditions such as obesity, inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis), bursitis, neuroma
(nerve growths), gout, diabetes, Haglund's deformity, and Achilles tendinitis can also instigate the problem. Running or jogging on hard surfaces, repetative striking of the heel bone.
The vast majority of people who have heel spurs feel the asscociated pain during their first steps in the morning. The pain is quite intense and felt either the bottom or front of the heel bone.
Typically, the sharp pain diminishes after being up for a while but continues as a dull ache. The pain characteristically returns when first standing up after sitting for long periods.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are diagnosed based on the history of pain and tenderness localized to these areas. They are specifically identified when there is point tenderness at the bottom of
the heel, which makes it difficult to walk barefoot on tile or wood floors. X-ray examination of the foot is used to identify the bony prominence (spur) of the heel bone (calcaneus).
Non Surgical Treatment
In case of heel spurs rest is most important. Active sports, running, long walks etc should be avoided to start with. If you?re in a job that requires a lot of standing, take a few days off work.
Rest (or reduced activity) is essential to allow the inflammation from becoming aggrevated. Furthermore, you can use ice packs (placed on the heel for 5-10 minutes) to ?cool down? the inflamed area.
You may take anti-inflammatory medication or apply a topical inflammatory (i.e. a cream) to help reduce inflammation. In addition, there are some simple exercises that should be done daily to help
relieve heel spur pain.
Approximately 2% of people with painful heel spurs need surgery, meaning that 98 out of 100 people do well with the non-surgical treatments previously described. However, these treatments can
sometimes be rather long and drawn out, and may become considerably expensive. Surgery should be considered when conservative treatment is unable to control and prevent the pain. If the pain goes
away for a while, and continues to come back off and on, despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain really never goes away, but reaches a plateau, beyond which it does
not improve despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain requires three or more injections of "cortisone" into the heel within a twelve month period, surgery should be
To prevent this condition, wearing properly fitted shoes with good arch support is very important. If a person is overweight, weight loss can help diminish stress on the feet and help prevent foot
problems. For those who exercise frequently and intensely, proper stretching is always necessary, especially when there is an increase in activities or a change in running technique. It is not
recommended to attempt to work through the pain, as this can change a mild case of heel spurs and plantar fascitis into a long-lasting and painful episode of the condition.