Heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis – a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome. Heel pain may also be due to stress fracture, tendinitis, arthritis, nerve irritation, or a cyst. Because there are several potential causes, it is important to be properly diagnosed. A podiatric surgeon is best trained to distinguish between all the possibilities and determine the underlying source of your heel pain.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
It is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. The fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed – resulting in heel pain.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis are:
- Pain on the bottom of the heel
- Pain that is usually worse upon arising
- Pain that is aching or stabbing in nature
People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after they’ve been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain often decreases as the fascia becomes stretched. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis relates to the structure of the foot. For example, people who have problems with their arches are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis. Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat, surfaces puts abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis. This is particularly evident when a person’s job requires long hours on their feet. Repeated stress like running, jumping, and other impact exercises can cause fasciitis. Also a modest weight gain or obesity can contribute to plantar fasciitis.
The podiatric foot and ankle surgeon with obtain your medical history and examine your feet. Throughout this process the surgeon rules out all the possible causes for heel pain other than plantar fasciitis.
In addition, diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or MRI may be used to distinguish the different types of heel pain. Sometimes heel spurs are found in patients with plantar fasciitis, but these are rarely a source of pain. When they are present the condition may be diagnosed as plantar fasciitis/ heel spur syndrome.