Heel spurs & plantar fasciitis facts
- A heel spur is a pointed bony outgrowth of the bone of the heel (the calcaneus bone).
- Heel spurs under the sole of the foot (plantar area) are associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can occur alone or be related to underlying diseases.
- Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are treated by measures that decrease the associated inflammation and avoid reinjury.
What is a heel spur? What are symptoms of a heel spur?
A heel spur is a pointed bony outgrowth of the bone of the heel (the calcaneus bone). They are attributed to chronic local inflammation at the insertion of soft tissue tendons or fascia in the area. Heel spurs can be located at the back of the heel or under the heel, beneath the sole of the foot. Heel spurs at the back of the heel are frequently associated with inflammation of the Achilles tendon (tendinitis) and cause tenderness and pain at the back of the heel made worse while pushing off the ball of the foot.
How do heel spurs relate to plantar fasciitis? What causes heel spurs and plantar fasciitis?
Heel spurs under the sole of the foot (plantar area) are associated with inflammation of the plantar fascia (fasciitis), the "bowstring-like" tissue stretching underneath the sole that attaches at the heel. Plantar heel spurs cause localized tenderness and pain made worse when stepping down on the heel.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can occur alone or be related to underlying diseases that cause arthritis (inflammation of the joints), such as reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter's disease), ankylosing spondylitis, and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. It is important to note that heel spurs may cause no symptoms at all and may be incidentally discovered during X-ray exams taken for other purposes.
How are heel spurs and plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are diagnosed based on the history of pain and tenderness localized to these areas. They are specifically identified when there is point tenderness at the bottom of the heel, which makes it difficult to walk barefoot on tile or wood floors. X-ray examination of the foot is used to identify the bony prominence (spur) of the heel bone (calcaneus).