Overview and Facts about Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the foot and occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is a ligament – or a band of supportive tissue – that connects the heel to the front of the foot. An estimated two million people are treated for plantar fasciitis each year.
Bone spurs are another cause of pain on the bottom of the foot. Bone spurs result from calcium deposits creating a bony extension on the underside of the heel bone. Although bone spurs and plantar fascia are related, a person can suffer from one without having the other. Both of these are classified as an orthopaedic condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of the foot, near the heel. This pain is often worse in the morning, especially for the first few steps. The condition makes the foot ache after working out- but not while exercising.
Only about 50% of patients with bone spurs experience pain, which is most likely to occur first thing in the morning or after a long period of sitting.
Plantar fasciitis and bone spur pain is often described as sharp and jabbing when it first occurs. As the day progresses, the pain becomes a dull ache.
Causes and Risk Factors of Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
Plantar fasciitis and bone spurs develop from stress and strain on the feet. Damage occurs to the bone and tissues of the foot, leading to inflammation of your ligament and calcium formations on your bone. While plantar fasciitis can occur quickly, bone spurs take months to develop.
In many cases, strains on the foot muscles and ligaments, including the plantar fascia, cause tearing of the heel bone membrane, which can lead to the formation of heel spurs.
People with a high risk for both orthopaedic conditions include athletes, runners, joggers and jumpers, as well as those who:
- Walk with a gait abnormality
- Wear ill-fitting or heavily worn shoes
- Spend most of the day standing
- Are overweight
- Have flat feet
- Have diabetes
Tests and Diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
To diagnosis plantar fasciitis and bone spurs, a doctor completes a physical examination of the foot. They may test the range of motion and strength of the feet and ask the patient to do different motions with the foot to see what motions cause pain. Paired with a discussion of the patient’s symptoms, the physician can often accurately diagnosis plantar fasciitis. Diagnosing bone spurs, however, may require X-rays.
Treatment and Care for Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
Many cases of plantar fasciitis and bone spurs respond to conservative treatments, including:
- Proper fitting shoes
- Taping the foot
- Shoe inserts
- Orthotic devices
- Physical therapy
- Night splints
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
In cases where a more aggressive treatment is necessary, most doctors opt for corticosteroid injections into the plantar fascia.
Although 90% of cases respond to these treatments, some cases may require surgery to remove heel spurs and release the plantar fascia.