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Is That a Heel Spur — or Plantar Fasciitis?

Are you experiencing new pain or discomfort in your heel and you’re not sure what’s causing it? After doing some light research, you may have come to the conclusion that you could have plantar fasciitis. Or perhaps it’s a heel spur. Our staff at North Central Texas Foot & Ankle, with offices in Decatur and Roanoke, Texas, can help with either condition. 

Let’s take a look at plantar fasciitis and heel spurs in an effort to make the distinction between the conditions more clear.

Plantar fasciitis

Your foot is composed of many tendons, ligaments, and bones. One of those ligaments is called the plantar fascia. It’s long, thin, and positioned directly under the skin on the bottom of your foot. We ask a lot of our feet — we walk, run, jump, dance, and stand on them, sometimes for long periods of time. The plantar fascia is there as a bit of a shock absorber when we perform those activities, but too much stress and pressure can cause tears or otherwise damage that fibrous tissue, leading to plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, with about 2 million people are treated for the condition each year. The inflammation and irritation that come as a result of the damaged tissue is what causes your pain. A key aspect of plantar fasciitis is that pain is usually felt during your first few steps in the morning, after prolonged sitting, or after — but not during — exercise. This is often referred to as “startup pain.”

Several risk factors contribute to plantar fasciitis:

Heel spur

A heel spur is a type of osteophyte, also known as a bone spur. It’s a calcium deposit that forms off the edge of the heel bone when plantar fasciitis continues for an extended period of time. Heel spurs may occur in conjunction with plantar fasciitis, but they do not cause it, making it possible to treat any pain felt without removing the spur. 

Bone spurs become more common as we age, with one 1 of 10 people having heel spurs. However, only 1 out of 20 people experience foot pain as a result. Often, people don’t even realize they have a heel spur until it’s incidentally found on an X-ray or MRI during treatment of other conditions. If you fall under the category of those who do have pain from heel spurs, you may experience intermittent or chronic pain — most often while walking, jogging, or running — or the sensation of pin sticks that turn into a dull ache. Generally, the pain you feel isn’t caused by the heel spur itself, but the injury to the soft tissue surrounding it.

Whatever kind of pain you’re feeling, it’s important to get it checked out by a professional. Our team at North Central Texas Foot & Ankle has the experience to properly diagnose and treat your heel pain. Our providers, Samantha Childers, DPM and Ricky Childers, DPM are here to listen to your symptoms, identify the issue, and recommend the best course of treatment for you.

Don’t let your heel pain disrupt your daily life any longer. Give either of our offices a call or request an appointment online.

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