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Heel Conditions

Heel Conditions: Heel Spurs, Heel Pain

Table of Contents

What is a Heel Spur?

About Common Heel Conditions and Injuries

A bony projection extending from the bottom or back of the calcaneus (heel bone).

Pain occurs when the plantar fascia and surrounding muscles pull and tear the periosteum on the calcaneus (heel bone).


Overweight, overwork or excess physical activity. Tight achilles tendon. High or low arch foot. Limb length discrepancy. Pulling or tearing of the ligaments & muscles that insert into the heel on the bottom or back of the foot. This tearing of the soft tissues becomes repaired by bone growth which is known as a spur


Pain in the heel first thing in the morning when standing that may or may not improve with activity. Constant dull heel pain. Pain in the heel at the end of the day


Proper stretching of the tight ligaments & muscles. Oral anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Tylenol for two to three weeks. Biomechanical analysis and orthotics. Physical therapy. Surgery as a last alternative after more than 4-6 months of untreatable pain

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

A painful inflammation of the bottom of the foot between the ball of the foot and the heel.


There are several possible causes of plantar fasciitis, including:

  1. Wearing high heels
  2. Gaining weight
  3. Increased walking, standing, or stair-climbing.

If you wear high-heeled shoes, including western-style boots, for long periods of time, the tough, tendon-like tissue of the bottom of your foot can become shorter. This layer of tissue is called fascia. Pain occurs when you stretch fascia that has shortened. This painful stretching might happen, for example, when you walk barefoot after getting out of bed in the morning.

If you gain weight, you might be more likely to have plantar fasciitis, especially if you walk a lot or stand in shoes with poor heel cushioning. Normally there is a pad of fatty tissue under your heel bone. Weight gain might break down this fat pad and cause heel pain.

Runners may get plantar fasciitis when they change their workout and increase their mileage or frequency of workouts. It can also occur with a change in exercise surface or terrain, or if your shoes are worn out and don’t provide enough cushion for your heels.

If the arches of your foot are abnormally high or low, you are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis than if your arches are normal.


The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain when you walk. The pain may also present itself in any area of the arch. You may also feel pain when you stand and possibly even when you are resting. This pain typically occurs first thing in the morning after you get out of bed, when your foot is placed flat on the floor. The pain occurs because you are stretching the plantar fascia. The pain usually lessens with more walking, but you may have it again after periods of rest.

You may feel no pain when you are sleeping because the position of your feet during rest allows the fascia to shorten and relax.


Rest, ice pack to the heel, prescribe anti-inflammatory, such as aspirin or ibuprofen and stretching. All these treatments help to decrease pain and inflammation. Heel cushions worn in both shoes can help. Orthotics, whether custom or over-the-counter, may be part of your treatment, as well as the prevention in the future.

If your heel pain is not relieved by the treatments described above, your health care provider may recommend physical therapy. A splint may be fitted to the calf of your leg and foot, to be worn at night to keep your foot stretched during sleep. Another possible treatment is injection of cortisone in the heel. Surgery is rarely necessary.


The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to wear shoes that are well made and fit your feet. This is especially important when you exercise or walk a lot or stand for a long time on hard surfaces. Get new athletic shoes before your old shoes stop supporting and cushioning your feet. You should also avoid repeated jarring to the heel. Maintain a healthy weight.