Heel Spurs And Plantar Fasciitis: Common Causes Of Foot, Heel, And Ankle Pain

Posted on: 20 January 2015

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If you enjoy running each day but are starting to feel pain in your foot, heel, and ankle, there is a chance that you might have heel spurs. There is also a chance you might have plantar fasciitis. These two problems often appear together, but there are ways to treat them. Until they are treated by a podiatrist, you may have to stop running because it may hurt too much.

What Are These Conditions?

A heel spur is a tiny projection of a bone and is made of calcium deposits. A heel spur on its own will not usually cause pain, but it can if it becomes big enough. It can also lead to pain when a person also has plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when tissue inside the foot stretches and attaches to a person's heel. This condition causes extreme pain and is most common in athletes. It can also occur with people who have poorly-structured feet.

If you have pain in your foot, heel, or ankle, it is likely that you may have both of these conditions. If so, you may notice that the pain is at its worst when you first wake up in the morning and begin walking. As you walk around for a little while, the tissue may loosen up, which may relieve some of the pain you have.

What Causes These Conditions?

While you may only have one of these conditions, it is likely that you will develop the other if left untreated. Both conditions can be caused by the same things, including:

A heel spur does not occur overnight; it is something that actually develops slowly over time. The same thing is true for plantar fasciitis. This condition also takes time to develop, but both conditions must be treated if you would like to eliminate the pain they are causing.

How Do Doctors Diagnose The Conditions?

Diagnosing either of these conditions will require a visit to a foot doctor. Foot doctors focus on problems that affect the feet, heels, and ankles, and they do several things to determine the source of the pain, including:

  • Physical examination – The doctor will look at your feet and will push on certain spots. By doing this, the doctor can tell exactly where your pain is, and this is a great way to diagnose plantar fasciitis.
  • X-rays – The only true way to know if you have heel spurs is through x-rays. Because they are bony growths, they will show up on x-rays, and this is the main way doctors can tell if they exist or not.

Once a doctor diagnoses the conditions, he or she will determine a plan for treating them.

How Are They Treated?

In most cases, heel spurs are not removed, but instead doctors treat them. In addition, treating plantar fasciitis is not usually done through surgery. Here are some of the most common ways doctors treat heel spurs and plantar fasciitis:

  • Foot orthotics – Wearing shoes with proper support will often relieve any pain caused by either of these conditions.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication – This may involve oral medication or injections, but both types are designed to decrease the inflammation, which is the root cause of pain for most people.
  • Physical therapy – Attending therapy for your feet is also a great form of treatment. During this, you will complete exercises and activities that will help strengthen and heal your muscles and ligaments in your feet.

Living with foot or ankle pain can be unbearable, and it can stop you from doing things you enjoy. If you believe that you might have one or both of these conditions, make an appointment with a podiatrist today.