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Plantar Fasciitis vs. Heel Spur : What's The Difference?

Plantar Fasciitis vs. Heel Spur : What's The Difference?
Akanksha Nigam

Do you experience pain in your heel after waking up in the morning and walking a few steps? You might wonder what is causing that pain. Could it be a heel spur or plantar fasciitis? Read on to learn more!

Plantar Fasciitis vs. Heel Spur: The Difference

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common reasons for heel pain, affecting about 2 million people in the US. The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament at the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel to the front section of the foot and supports the arch.

This ligament absorbs the pressure in the foot as we walk, run, jump, and engage in sports. Excess pressure can sometimes cause damage which results in pain and inflammation.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis 

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis may include -

  1. A stinging pain at the bottom of the foot or near the heel in the morning
  2. Discomfort when stretching the foot
  3. Increased pain after a workout or activity

A heel spur is a calcium deposit on the heel bone. It is a smooth growth that develops over time. They are usually painless but may cause pain and loss of motion under extreme conditions. 

Heel spurs form as a result of plantar fasciitis that continues over a long period of time. Although heel spurs are associated with heel pain, these spurs rarely cause discomfort. The actual reason for pain is plantar fasciitis.

Excess calcium build-up on the heel is one of the main causes of a heel spur. They are often also caused by a strain of the foot muscles and ligament, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repetitive tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. 

Symptoms of Heel Spur 

Heel spur symptoms may include -

  1. Difficulty walking barefoot
  2. Inflammation and swelling in the front section of the foot
  3. Dull ache throughout the day
  4. Sharp pain in the heel after standing up in the morning or after rest

The Risk Factors 

While the causes of both conditions are almost similar, the likelihood of developing one or the other can vary. The risk factors of plantar fasciitis are - increased activity, repetitive high-impact activity, tight calf muscles, obesity, flat foot or high arch, and or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

Similarly, the risk factors of a heel spur include - 

  • Walking abnormalities that place higher strain on the heel bone, ligament, and nerves
  • Running or jogging on hard surfaces
  • Poor-fitting shoes that do not have proper arch support
  • Excess weight and obesity

Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis & Heel Spur

In most cases, the recommended treatment for both conditions is the same, beginning with non-surgical treatments. Surgery may be necessary if the condition does not improve.

The non-surgical treatment methods are as follows:

1. Rest - The first and foremost method of reducing pain is to stop or limit activities that cause pain. It could be playing a sport, running, jogging, or standing on a hard surface for a long time. Taking a break from these would significantly bring relief.

2. Ice - Applying an ice pack or a cold water bottle to the affected area for 20 minutes three to four times a day reduces blood flow and eases inflammation.

3. The right shoes - Wear shoes that are appropriate for the activity you plan to do, like running shoes if you plan to run, hiking shoes if you plan to hike, etc. Thick soles and cushions can reduce pain when you walk or stand. Foot inserts and heel pads are also good alternatives for foot support.

4. Foot stretching and exercises - Tight muscles in the feet and calves aggravate heel pain. Exercises like calf stretches and plantar fascia stretches are simple to perform, release tension in the tissues and muscles, and increase the range of motion in the affected area.

5. Night Splints - Most people have their feet pointing down while sleeping. This relaxes the plantar fascia and causes morning pain. A night splint keeps the plantar fascia stretched as you sleep and reduces morning heel pain and soreness.

Some products that might help treat plantar fasciitis and heel spur

HPFY carries a host of products that can help you treat these conditions. Some of our bestsellers are:

1. Cramer DNS Dorsal Night Splint

FSA Eligible Items FSA Approved

Effectively relieves plantar fasciitis pain. The small interior dorsal clamshell design supports the arch, prevents contracture, and maintains an optimal healing environment. It features an innovative anti-slip pad that enables the user to wear this splint and perform small household tasks.

Features of Cramer DNS Dorsal Night Splint

  • Minimal weight and bulk
  • Less heat retention
  • Soft, thick padding for comfort while sleeping
  • Easily adjustable, stretch-resistant straps
Cramer DNS Dorsal Night Splint



2. Vasyli Hoke Supination Control orthotic

FSA Eligible Items FSA Approved

Stabilizes the heel position to maximize control. Designed to reduce heel impact forces, these unisex shoe inserts relieve heel, knee, and back pain. A deep heel cup and a lateral forefoot post help control supination and stabilize the foot.

Features of Vasyli Hoke Supination Control orthotic

  • Unisex
  • Heat moldable
  • Designed for custom-fit shoes
  • Ideal for walking and everyday use
Vasyli Hoke Supination Control Orthotic



3. Norco Adjustable Heel Lifts

FSA Eligible Items FSA Approved

Reduce stress and pressure on the joints. These heel lifts have a natural, firm, and sponge construction that relieves stress on the heel and the plantar fascia. They protect the heel by absorbing shock and offer maximum pressure distribution. 

Features of Norco Adjustable Heel Lifts

  • Size corresponds to the US shoe sizes
  • Three removable layers to adjust the height
  • Each layer is 3.2mm thick  
Norco Adjustable Heel Lifts


Other medical and surgical treatment methods

1. Casting

A cast immobilizes (casting tape) the foot and provides an optimum environment for healing. Since a cast is custom-molded, it is a better option than a boot.

2. Ultrasonic Tissue Repair

This treatment method involves little or no incision to the affected area. The ultrasound imaging guides a probe to the injured area. The tip of the probe then vibrates and removes the damaged tissue.

3. Gastrocnemius Recession Surgery

One of the two muscles in the calf is lengthened surgically to increase motion in the ankle by a traditional open-incision or a small-incision, endoscopic surgery. Your surgeon will discuss the different methods with you.

4. Partial Plantar Fascia Release

Often performed at the same time as gastrocnemius recession, this involves making an incision at the bottom or the side of the heel at the point where the ligament attaches to the bone to release the tension. If the bone spur is large, it is also removed.

Debilitating pain in the heel is not a great way to start the day. Even though the pain may disappear after a while, it is never a good idea to let it go on for a long time without finding the cause. Remember, if you have pain in your heel or foot, it is really important to rest, apply an ankle Ice Pack to the affected area, and avoid standing or walking for too long. Visit your doctor if the pain persists. 


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.

HPFY Akanksha Nigam

Akanksha Nigam

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Akanksha Nigam has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. With a Masters Degree in Finance, she began her Marketing career in the banking industry. However, her interest in human ...

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