Table of Content:
Plantar fasciitis – what is it?
Briefly, plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that runs along the base of your foot, connecting the heel bone with the base of your toes (at the ball of your foot). It has three major parts (medial, central, and lateral) and is a ligament, so it acts as a bridge between bones.
What can cause plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis pain, inflammation, injury, and strain can be caused by:
- Long periods of activity (prolonged standing, walking, running)
- Abnormal foot structure (e.g. flat feet)
- The types of shoes you are wearing
- The fit of your shoes (e.g. shoes that pinch can contribute to plantar fasciitis)
- Tight calf muscles
Heel spurs – how do I recognize them?
Heel spurs (also termed calcaneal spurs) are bony growths located at the base of the feet in the heel area. They develop over time and are linked to plantar fasciitis.
Individuals with heel spurs share many symptoms with those with plantar fasciitis. Common symptoms include:
- Foot pain (particularly a sharp pain in the heel)
- A dull ache in the feet (heel or arch) throughout the day
- Inflammation or swelling of the heel
- Experiencing tenderness when you walk barefoot
- Corns and callouses
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs – how do they differ?
While they share many clinical symptoms and may feel similar to patients with heel pain, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs involve different anatomical structures. Plantar fasciitis is specific to the plantar fascia ligament, while heel spurs involve the heel bone. Furthermore, while plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition, a heel spur (or bone spur) is a growth that generates additional tissue.
How do I treat heel spurs or plantar fasciitis?
It is important to seek a consultation with a podiatrist who can conduct a physical exam and determine the best avenue for pain relief. Left untreated, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can worsen and lead eventually create additional issues.
Some common non-surgical treatments:
- Rest – An adequate amount of rest will allow your foot to heal and prevent further strain.
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications – Your podiatrist may prescribe medications to help reduce inflammation in your ligaments and surrounding muscles. In more severe cases, cortisone injections may be prescribed.
- Orthotics – Inserted into your shoes, orthotics can provide additional support to the arch and prevent overpronation. They have been demonstrated to be an effective treatment option in reducing foot aches, heel pain, as well as discomfort in the back, hips, and legs.
- Selecting more supportive shoes– Footwear with deep heel cups and a supportive arch can make a world of difference in reducing pain.
- Stretching exercises – Strengthening and stretching exercises help to reduce pain and bring more mobility to the feet.
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Think you might have heel spurs or plantar fasciitis?
If you have additional questions about, or if you suspect you may be suffering from, either condition, please feel free to comment below.