Heel spurs is a foot condition, which is commonly mistaken for plantar fasciitis. Studies on plantar fasciitis vs heel spurs indicate that both conditions result from the inflammation of plantar fascia. The former is the cause of heel pain and not the later.
Therefore, it’s important to understand the two conditions, in order to embark on the most effective remedies. This guide highlights the similarities and differences of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs including the causes of pain, risk factors and treatment.
Plantar Fasciitis vs Heel Spurs
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are easily mistaken for one another because of their symptomatic heel pain. Despite this similarity, the two conditions exhibit notable differences that should be considered to allow effective treatment.
Here are the descriptions of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is best described as an inflammation of the plantar fascia which is a fibrous tissue connecting the forefoot to the heel. It’s a very common injury which results in intermittent pain around the heel and under the foot arch.
Plantar fascia serves as the means for arch support and shock attenuation when walking or during running. Repetitive lengthening and shortening of this tendon may eventually cause inflammation thus leading to pain under your foot arch or heels. This is especially common
Individuals who have high arches or flat feet are more likely to suffer plantar fasciitis if there’s little arch support in their shoes. Physical activities such as running, walking and standing for long increase the risk of plantar fasciitis because they are associated with greater strain on the plantar fascia.
What is Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs refer to the calcium deposits (bony protrusions) that develop under the heel bone. They are mainly caused by excessive tension on the muscles and ligaments on the foot. However, it may also develop at the insertion of the plantar fascia into the heel bone when the plantar fascia becomes overstretched.
Usually, heel spurs are painless. However, in some rare cases, they may cause a stabbing pain similar to the one caused by plantar fasciitis.
Possible risk factors for heel spurs include poor running/walking gait, lack of lack support in your shoes and running on hard surfaces.
How to Differentiate Plantar Fasciitis from Heel Spurs
A study on the link between the two conditions showed that half of individuals who have plantar fasciitis also develop heel spurs. However, it is possible to have heel spurs without experiencing heel pain or developing plantar fasciitis.
Since heel spurs are usually painless, it’s in order to say that most of the heel pain conditions result from plantar fasciitis. That means, it’s the inflammation on the plantar fascia that makes your heels to ache.
Therefore, when you have heel spurs and heel pain at the same time, there’s a very high chance that the problem is originating from plantar fasciitis and no the spur.
Risk Factors: Plantar Fasciitis vs Heel Spurs
Both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs develop over a span of months usually as a result of overuse. Both conditions are associated with certain risk factors which increase the likelihood of their development. These include:
1. Abnormal Foot Mechanics
Abnormal walking or running gait is associated with excessive tension on the plantar fascia thus leading to inflammation. This is especially exhibited by high-arched and flat-footed individuals who tend to have supinated and overpronated motion.
2. Certain Physical Activities
Physical activities like running, jumping, cardio dance and so on are associated with overuse on the your heels and the plantar fascia when done in extreme. Running on hard surfaces such as asphalt also increase the likelihood of experiencing these condition because they are associated with greater pounding under your feet.
3. Improper Shoes
You shoes can leave you vulnerable to plantar fasciitis and heel spurs if they have inadequate arch support, are worn out or are not fitting properly. This is especially true with running, waling and training shoes.
4. Obesity or Being Weighty
The problem with this is that it exposes the plantar fascia to greater stress.
Both conditions become more likely as you age because the plantar fascia becomes less flexible while the fat pad on the heel gets thinner.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can side-line you from physical activities including running and walking. The good news is that both conditions respond effectively. Below are some of the most recommended remedies for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
1. Appropriate Shoes and Orthotics
Podiatrists recommend appropriate shoes to avoid exposing your feet to excessive strain and impacts. If you have flat feet or high foot arches, there’s a greater tendency to strain the plantar fascia which in turn causes heel pain and heel spurs.
The most ideal remedy for such types of feet is to wear arch support shoes or use arch support custom orthotics.
Consider well-cushioned shoes to mitigate impact shocks especially during running. Alternatively, you can use heel cup inserts on the heel area of your shoes to lessen impacts on your heels.
Pain-relievers are useful in easing pain temporarily. These are only meant to keep you comfortable before seeking a more lasting solution.
3. Cold Therapy
You can also perform a cold therapy by at home using an ice pack. As a precaution, ensure your wrap the ice pack with a cloth to prevent ice burns. Plus do not apply the pack for more than 20 minutes. It’s recommended to apply the ice pack for 20 minutes then wait for another 20 minutes before applying again.
The cold therapy doesn’t prove effective within 2 to 3 days of application, then need to see your doctor.
4. Physical Therapy
This involve manual stretching of the plantar fascia, the calf and surrounding muscles. Performed by a professional therapist, physical therapy aids in lessening pressure and tension.
5. Cortisone Injections
Cortisone injections are administered in rare cases where the initial remedies fail to reduce pain. They are injected as a means of pain relief rather than a cure. However, you can only receive a certain number of cortisone injections to avoid tendon rupture.
This is effective therapy for treating chronic plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. In this treatment, a machine is passed over the affected area where it relieves pain using cold therapy and electromagnetic energy.
If none of the above remedies seems effective, your doctor may recommend some form of surgery to ease tension on the plantar fascia.
The underlying point to remember is that heel spurs usually result from plantar fasciitis. Therefore, treating plantar fasciitis is the ultimate remedy for relieving pain on your heels. Luckily plantar fasciitis responds positively to non-surgical treatments which include therapy, supportive shoes, orthotics, and pain relievers.