As a runner you are very likely acquainted with heel pain, even if you've never been diagnosed with it yourself. You may have heard the term "heel spur" used simultaneously with heel pain and you've wondered if heel spurs in runners are the same as heel pain or plantar fasciitis. I'm here to tell you they are not the same, but heel spurs can result from plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. Let's take a look at the difference.
Heel pain is one of the most common problems I see in my office. And it's a very frequent problem for runners. Heel pain occurs because the fascia that runs from the bottom of the heel to the front of the foot gets overstretched. When this overstretching happens time after time from running or other activities the point at which the fascia inserts into the heel becomes inflamed and painful.
A heel spur or bone growth can occur in response to the micro-tears that occur with persistent plantar fasciitis. As calcium deposits build up at the location where the tears are trying to repairs themselves the spur forms. Heel spurs do not cause pain but will show up as a result of all that reconstruction going on in your heel. They are more common in runners and other athletes due to the repetitive pounding on pavement and other surfaces.
What Can Be Done?
The solution is to get treated for the plantar fasciitis. Treatments include the following:
To start the healing process it's essential to reduce the inflammation causing the heel pain. More traditional treatments include icing, taking an anti-inflammatory medication, getting a cortisone injection, and taking a break from running. While these treatments work, they often take a long time and they don't heal the problem. Our newest treatment, the MLS laser therapy, starts to reduce pain after the first visit and penetrates deep into the tissue stimulating regeneration and healing at the cellular level.
Reduce tight calf muscles and the Achilles tendon
Often, part of the problem for runners with heel pain is tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon. While wall stretches can work for some people, if you have very tight calf muscles you'll need a much more intensive stretching program. Using an Achilles splint for 30 minutes each day is one of the best ways I've found for reducing the problem. Once the plantar fasciitis has healed, runners should use a dynamic warm-up to keep injuries at bay.
Find a runner's shoe store
Shoes can make all the difference when it comes to keeping plantar fasciitis and resulting heel spurs at bay. Finding a runner's shoe store where the employees are well trained in fitting running shoes is ideal. Here are more tips for "Buying Running Shoes".
Inserts or orthotics
Before going to see a Seattle podiatrist try the most recommended shoe insert by podiatrists, Powersteps. If these reduce your pain significantly, great. But the truth is if you have a bone spur you most likely have a more severe case of plantar fasciitis; you're going to need prescriptive or custom orthotics.
If you're experiencing heel pain, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.
For more information about heel pain in runners download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Stopping Heel Pain in Runners".
For chronic heel pain, download our eBook, "Stop Living With Stubborn Heel Pain".
In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly. You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!
Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.