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.
There exists a membrane that covers most of the bone along the heel. When this membrane gets torn repeatedly due to straining of the muscles in the foot, the calcium deposits that lead to heel spurs
are more likely to occur.
Heel spurs are most noticeable in the morning when stepping out of bed. It can be described as sharp isolated pain directly below the heel. If left untreated heel spurs can grow and become
A Diagnosis of Heel Spur Syndrome is a very common reason for having heel pain. Heel pain may be due to other types of conditions such as tendonitis, Haglund's Deformity, Stress Fracture, Tarsal
Tunnel Syndrome, or low back problems. A more common condition in children is Sever's Disease. The diagnosis is usually made with a combination of x-ray examination and symptoms.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatments for bone spurs and plantar fasciitis include Stretching the calf muscles several times daily is critical in providing tension relief for the plantar fascia. Some physicians may recommend
using a step to stretch, while others may encourage yoga or pushing against a wall to stretch. Icing after activity. A frozen tennis ball can provide specific relief. Rolling the tennis ball under
the arch of the foot after exercise can lessen pain in the area. Taping is also recommended at times. Several manufacturers of sports tape have plantar fascia specific lines. Orthotics are a good
idea for those on their feet during the day. Orthotics can provide cushioning and relief. Cortisone shots in the fascia can provide temporary anti-inflammatory relief. Losing weight is perhaps the
most effective method of improving heel and foot pain. Those who are overweight are far more likely to report these syndromes.
In a small number of cases (usually less than 5 percent), patients may not experience relief after trying the recommendations listed above. It is important that conservative treatments (such as those
listed above) be performed for AT LEAST a year before considering surgery. Time is important in curing the pain from heel spurs, and insufficient treatment before surgery may subject you to potential
complications from the procedure. If these treatments fail, your doctor may consider an operation to loosen the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release.