You may experience heel pain from both plantar fasciitis and heel spur, but there are different issues. Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of the ligament called the plantar fascia, while heel spur involves bone growth or calcium deposit that leads to pain.
Keep reading to eliminate your confusion between plantar fasciitis vs heel spur. We will tell you each condition’s symptoms, the causes, and treatment to help you determine which one you are dealing with.
Plantar Fasciitis: what is it?
Both plantar fasciitis and heel spur can cause heel pain. So, these two conditions are typically confused with each other because they are similar in some manners. But what is the difference between plantar fasciitis vs. heel spur?
According to research, one in six Americans may develop plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fascia refers to the thick, soft connective tissue band that stretches from the heel’s back to the toes’ base. This ligament connects the bones in the heel and toe. It acts as a shock absorber for all the stress and strain placed on the feet when walking, jumping, and running.
While plantar fascia is naturally strong and can endure great force. However, too much pressure causes the ligament to get damaged or tear. The human body responds to this overworked or damage by becoming inflamed.
Plantar fascia’s inflammation is known as plantar fasciitis. This condition is often described as a stabbing pain underneath the arch or on the foot’s bottom near the heel.
In the morning, the pain becomes worse due to inactivity during sleep. Patients can also experience more pain after long periods of rest, exercise, and standing. The affected area may also have swelling and redness.
What are the plantar fasciitis symptoms?
Below are the common symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
- Increased pain after activity or exercise
- Stretching the foot leads to discomfort
- Redness and swelling along the heel and arch
- Sharp pain near the heel or bottom of the pain after rest or in the morning
- Aching and stiffness in the heel
What causes plantar fasciitis? (Plantar Fasciitis vs Heel Spur)
Different factors can cause or trigger plantar fasciitis, including:
- Wearing the wrong footwear
- Excessive walking or standing
- Not stretching the calf, ankle, and foot before or after exercise
- Flat or high arches
- Running on uneven or hard surfaces
Heel Spur: what is it?
A heel spur is a type of calcium deposit or bone spur that develops toward the heel bones or calcaneus’ back, whether the plantar fascia ligament inserts. Small, jagged bone bumps are developed in response to lots of damage or trauma to the heel.
In other words, a heel spur can develop as a result of plantar fasciitis. Once this ligament continues to tear or get damaged for an extended period, a heel spur is created to provide extra support for the heel.
This condition is associated with the same stabbing sensation in the heel that often worsens in the morning. However, the difference is that the heel spur itself is not usually the actual cause of the pain.
Only a few people who deal with heel spurs will have pain. The real cause of the pain in most patients is plantar fasciitis.
What are the heel spur symptoms?
Here are the common symptoms of heel spur:
- Sharp heel pain after rest or in the morning
- A dull ache and discomfort in the heel and ankle throughout the day
- Swelling and inflammation at the heel’s front
- Tenderness at the heel’s bottom, making it difficult to walk barefoot
What causes heel spur? (Plantar Fasciitis vs Heel Spur)
The following factor can cause or trigger a heel spur:
- The rapid increase in physical activity levels
- Being involved in an activity or sport with lots of jumping or running
- Spending too much time standing
- Having abnormal walking patterns, high arches, or flat feet
- Wearing shoes that lack proper support do not fit well or are worn out
- Being extremely obese or overweight
- Having tight muscles in the calves
Are there similarities between plantar fasciitis and heel spur?
Most people suffering from heel spurs do not deal with plantar fasciitis. However, only a few people with plantar fasciitis do not suffer from heel spurs.
A study suggests that 50 percent of patients suffering from plantar fasciitis also deal with heel spurs.
As a heel spur develops, it is rarely responsible for foot pain. Instead, the foot condition that results in spur is the cause of the pain. If you are diagnosed with heel spur and experience pain at the heel’s back, there is a big chance that you have Achilles tendinitis.
Meanwhile, if the pain you experience is on the heel’s bottom, you probably have plantar fasciitis.
Both heel spurs and plantar fasciitis result from the same process, and they share the same risk factors, including:
- Overuse of the foot, including walking, jumping, running, and exercising
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Tight calf muscles
- Being obese or overweight
- Standing or walking for extended periods
How to tell if you have a plantar fasciitis or heel spur?
If you know the cause of your heel pain, whether plantar fasciitis or heel spur, you will better understand the proper treatment.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis are usually felt in the heel and arch. Some patients experience worse pain before they realize the stabbing pain in the heel. Many people with this condition also experience heel spurs.
As mentioned, the spur itself is not always the reason for the pain. If a heel spur is the cause of the pain, the stabbing pain is usually felt at the center of the pain.
Diagnosis of plantar fasciitis vs. heel spur is typically performed through clinical examination. If you believe you are dealing with any of these conditions, do not hesitate to see a doctor and get an official diagnosis.
MRIs and foot x-rays are usually involved with the diagnosis.
Do you want to know difference between Plantar Fasciitis vs Achilles Tendonitis, then read out this guide.
The important thing to remember is that plantar fasciitis usually leads to a heel spur. Fortunately, most patients can recover in less than 10 months with non-surgical treatments. Do leave the pain unattended because it can lead to worse foot problems.
If you are interested in common non-surgical treatments for plantar fasciitis, you can check out our content about night splints or top picks for the best flip-flops with arch support.