How Can You Tell The Difference Between Heel Spurs And Plantar Fasciitis?

Article by Alex Clarke

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Heel Spurs And Plantar Fasciitis?

Well, unless you have X-ray vision, you can’t! First, let’s look at what heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are.

Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are bony growths that extend from the heel bone called the calcaneum. They occur in response to an overload of tissue. The plantar fasciitis, the connective tissue that runs through the foot’s arch, pulls at its attachment point at the heel. Excessive pulling may overload this attachment point. The body’s response to this excessive loading is to lay down more bony tissue to strengthen the area. The problem may be that this harder bony structure can further irritate the softer tissue around it.

It is not uncommon to have heel spurs without any pain. However, a heel spur’s presence makes plantar fasciitis more likely.

More info: Heel Spurs.

Plantar Fasciitis

To describe this condition briefly, the connective tissue helping to provide stability to the foot’s arch (plantar fascia) can become irritated (inflamed) and /or change the fascia fibre shape. Your plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the heel’s bottom surface and extending along the sole towards the toes. Your plantar fascia passively limits the over-flattening of your arch. It is known as plantar fasciitis when your plantar fascia develops micro tears or becomes inflamed.

More info: Plantar Fasciitis

How Do We Tell The Difference?

We use imaging such as X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI to determine the presence of a heel spur. We can also use ultrasound or MRI to diagnose plantar fasciitis. We can also use some clinical tests and look for key symptoms, such as first-step pain, to diagnose plantar fasciitis without needing expensive imaging.

Remember that the two can occur together, or you can have a heel spur with or without plantar fasciitis.

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