The heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis is often thought to result from heel spurs. Although heel spurs can at times cause heel pain, plantar fasciitis is the source of heel pain. Research on plantar fasciitis vs heel spurs reveals that it’s the inflammation on the plantar fascia that leads to heel pain.
Heel spurs themselves occur when the plantar fascia is excessive stretched thus tearing the heel bone lining or membrane. Thus, by resolving plantar fasciitis, it’s possible to alleviate heel pain and heel spurs.
Plantar Fasciitis vs Heel Spurs
What’s Plantar Fasciitis?
In its simplest description, plantar fasciitis is a foot condition where the plantar fascia becomes inflamed in response to excessive strain. This results in intermittent pain at the area where the plantar fascia connects with the heel bone and under the arch of the foot.
By connecting the forefoot to the heel, the plantar fascia enables your foot to absorb impacts during the landing phase. It’s also plays the role of providing arch support to the foot to give you stability for standing, walking and running.
However, the tendon can become inflamed when exposed to excessive and frequent tension. This is especially common in high-arched and flat-footed individuals who tend to supinate and overpronate respectively.
What is Heel Spurs?
The terms ‘heel spurs’ are used to describe the bony projections on your heels as result of calcium deposits from the heel bone. Heel spurs are developed as a body’s natural response to offer the ideal heel support whenever the plantar fascia becomes excessively strained.
However, unlike plantar fasciitis, heel spurs are usually painless although in some instances they may cause stabbing pain. In such instances, pain is experienced at the centre of the heel rather than at the area where the heel bone connects with the plantar fascia.
Is it Heel Spurs or Plantar Fasciitis?
The location of heel pain usually leads to a misdiagnosis of the real cause of pain. More often, heel spurs are blamed for the pain which is not true. Studies have shown that heel spurs are themselves not painful.
Heel spurs develop as a result of plantar fasciitis as the body reacts to the inflammation on the plantar fascia. And the fact that pain occurs at the heel can make one to think that it originates from the spurs.
That means treatment for heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis should be aimed at alleviating the inflammation on the plantar fascia.
Who is at Risk of Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs?
Anyone can develop plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. However, certain factors can increase the chances of having either or both conditions.
Here are some of the likely risk factors:
1. Gait Abnormalities
Individuals who have flat feet and high foot arches normally exhibit pronated motion which in turn exerts excessive strain on the plantar fascia.
2. Strenuous Activities
Physical activities such as running, jumping, jogging can result in excessive tension on foot tendons including the plantar fascia. Moreover, hard running surfaces are associated with high impacts which can lead to overuse on both the plantar fascia and heel.
3. Wearing Wrong or Worn-Out Shoes
Worn-out shoes tend to lose some important properties that are meant to provide impact protection and arch support. This exposes the plantar fascia to impacts and excessive strain thus leading to inflammation.
4. Being Weighty
Being obese or having excessive weight results in heightened tension on the plantar fascia.
Studies have shown that individuals of between 40 to 60 years are more susceptible to plantar fasciitis. This is partly attributed to the tendency of the plantar fascia to lose its elasticity. That means, the plantar fascia becomes easily inflamed whenever there’s excessive tension.
A few changes in lifestyle and home treatment can effectively alleviate plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Medical intervention is only required when home remedies fail to work.
Below are some of the most effective remedies used in treating plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
1. Use of Pain Relievers
Pain relievers are meant to ease the pain as you embark on more effective remedies. These can be bought over-the-counter without a doctor’s prescription.
2. Change Your Shoes
As earlier mentioned worn-out and unsupportive shoes are one of the risk factors for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. The more you use your shoes, the more they lose their springiness and underfoot support.
Therefore, it’s advisable to replace your running or walking shoes to prevent these foot injuries.
If you have flat feet or high foot arches, consider wearing shoes that can keep the arch area adequately supported to lessen tension on the plantar fascia.
3. Orthotics and Heel Inserts
If your shoes are orthotic-friendly, you can use arch support custom orthotics to provide support to your foot arch. This is especially useful in high-arched and flat-footed who need heightened arch support to minimize strain on the plantar fascia.
Heel inserts are cushioning additions which are meant for enhancing shock attenuation for the heel area. They also ease pressure on the Achilles tendon which can also cause heel pain.
Various types of therapies can be performed either at home or by a professional to lessen the strain on the plantar fascia.
With the help of a cloth-wrapped ice park you can perform a cold therapy on the affected area at home.
Other possible therapies include physical therapy and cryoultrasound which are performed by a professional therapist.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Medications
The most common anti-inflammatory medication in use is cortisone injection. It’s administered in instances where other pain relief remedies are unsuccessful. However, they are not employed as a means for cure.
Cortisone injections should be administered sparingly to avoid tendon rupture.
Surgery is the last option for treating plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Although rare, your doctor may recommend surgery if the other interventions prove ineffective.
When you experience heel pain and notice signs of heel spurs, then this could be a good indicator of plantar fasciitis. This pain comes as a result of the strained and inflamed plantar fascia when your foot arches are not adequately supported.
Treating plantar fasciitis with conservative remedies proves an effective method for alleviating heel pain and heel spurs. Remember that the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the more effective these remedies will be. Early intervention eliminates the possibility of resulting to invasive procedures such as surgery.