There’s a bit of a misconception about heel spurs, and it’s time we clear things up a bit. Are you ready for some information you may not know about the relationship between heel spurs, plantar fasciitis and heel pain that could change the way you approach dealing with the pain in your foot?
The headline is this: a heel spur (LINK) happens because of inflammation; it doesn’t cause inflammation. And not all heel spurs cause pain. Let’s explore this idea further and see what it means for people trying to decide how to treat minor heel pain.
Understanding Heel Spurs
If you have pain in the bottom of your foot, it’s very likely caused by plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick tissue band that goes along the bottom of your foot, supporting your arch. The suffix “-itis” simply means inflammation, so plantar fasciitis is the irritation and inflammation of your plantar fascia.
Once you start having symptoms, you may have them frequently or only occasionally. But the foot and heel pain will probably return even if it goes away if you don’t take some kind of action. Statistics show that more than 2 million people seek treatment for PF heel pain each year in the United States alone.
But a heel spur isn’t a separate condition that also causes heel pain as many people believe. This condition develops because of chronic inflammation at the site in your foot where the plantar fascia goes through the heel bone. You see, it’s the result of the inflammation, not the cause.
If you have a heel spur, you’re in good company. About 10 percent of people have this condition. But here’s another interesting fact: only a small fraction of the people with heel spurs have any pain from them. So you can endure life with a heel spur for years and never even know it.
So What’s The Lesson?
Limiting inflammation of the plantar fascia throughout your life can reduce the chance that you’ll get a heel spur. And even if you do get this potentially painful condition, you may never actually have any discomfort because of it. Still, it makes sense to take action to limit inflammation and limit your chance of developing the condition.
Conservative treatment is often all that’s required for heel pain relief. That can include moderating activity when you have a flare up, taking anti-inflammatory medicine and using shoe insoles and other kinds of orthotics. In some cases, cortisone injections by your doctor and physical therapy may be necessary. Stretching exercises often relieve pain and when done regularly can prevent recurrences.
While surgery can be effective in relieving pain from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, it probably shouldn’t even be considered unless all conservative treatment ideas have failed. Ask your doctor for more details on heel spur pain.
So with a better understanding of how heel spurs develop, isn’t it a smart idea to nip your heel pain in the bud to prevent further problems down the line? That makes sense to us.