Heel Spurs: Plantar Fasciitis’ Best Friend

Best friends are often seen together and such is the case with plantar fasciitis and heel spurs! Although there are other stresses that can cause a heel spur to form, these two BFFs often come as a package deal – where there’s one, you’ll typically find the other – but what exactly are heel spurs, why do they tend to accompany plantar fasciitis, and how do they contribute to your heel pain? It all starts with a rather stressful relationship.

Under Pressure

Plantar fasciitis is typically the result of repetitive stresses placed upon the plantar fascia – the band of tissues that connects your heel bone to your toes. When this band becomes over-stressed and inflamed, it pulls on the heel bone again and again. Over time, your body responds by building up the bone in that area as an attempt to make it strong enough to handle the added pressure. This bony buildup is called a calcium deposit, or bone calcification, and it can continue to grow until it develops into a pointy protrusion – A.K.A. a heel spur.

Not to Blame for Your Pain

Since the hook-like bone of a heel spur forms due to a pre-existing condition affecting your heel (like its pal, plantar fasciitis), it’s not the actual reason behind your pain – the pre-existing condition is! However, while the spur itself isn’t the source, it can certainly add to the problem. Sometimes heel spurs have no additional symptoms at all, but other times inflammation can develop at the site of the formation, aggravating the soft tissue surrounding it, and making it even more uncomfortable to walk and go about your daily activities.

Treat the Source Not the Spur

Rest your feet to treat heel spur pain

It makes sense, then, that treatment for heel spurs involves addressing the original source of your heel pain. Rest, a switch in footwear, orthotics, and stretches can all help quicken the healing process. Ice and anti-inflammatory medicine can help ease discomfort, too. If these conservative measures don’t bring you sufficient relief, there are also injections, MLS laser therapy, and surgical procedures to release your plantar fascia or remove the spur if necessary.​

Reducing Your Risk

The risk factors of developing heel spurs are similar to those for heel pain in general – overdoing your workouts, standing for long periods of time on hard surfaces, excessive weight, worn shoes, and bad biomechanics due to a faulty foot structure, such as flat feet or high arches. Age can also be to blame as your heel’s protective fat pad tends to thin over time, leaving it more vulnerable to damage. Obviously, you can’t stop the aging process, but you can maintain a healthy weight, take advantage of orthotics, wear good shoes, refrain from overdoing it when exercising, and take plenty of breaks!

If you are still struggling with heel pain, let us determine the source of your problems and get you on the right treatment plan before heel spurs form and make things worse. Dial (303) 805-5156 to take care of your plantar fasciitis and stop its good buddy heel spur from causing you more pain. 

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC