Heel spur (plantar fasciitis) affects men and women equally. It is a condition in which the bottom of the heel is extremely painful.
A heel spur is a bony overgrowth on the bottom of your heel bone. The heel spur is usually a result of an inflamed ligament (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot that attaches to the heel bone. Constant abnormal pulling of this ligament irritates the heel bone and the body lays down a bone spur as a protective mechanism. The patient usually complains of pain with the first step in the morning, some relief following activity, but returning after extended amounts of time standing or walking.
Heel pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are several common causes. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you have heel pain, some causes include:
Plantar fasciitis is the most common condition that causes heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is due to irritation and inflammation of the tight tissue that forms the arch of the foot. Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel pain with prolonged walking and standing.
A spur is commonly associated with plantar fasciitis. This problem is most commonly seen in patients who have long standing heel pain due to plantar fasciitis.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome causes a large nerve in the back of the foot to become entrapped, or pinched. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand, tarsal tunnel syndrome can cause heel pain.
Stress fractures of the calcaneus are an uncommon cause of heel pain. Stress fractures should be considered especially in athletes such as long distance runners who have heel pain.
Posterior heel pain causes symptoms behind the foot, rather than underneath. Posterior heel pain causes include Achilles tendonitis and retrocalcaneal bursitis. Learn about causes of posterior heel pain and what treatments are available.
If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention. Treatment of heel pain must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor include:
- Inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
- Heel pain that occurs at night or while resting
- Heel pain that persists beyond a few days
- Swelling or discoloration of the back of the foot
- Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
- Any other unusual symptoms