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Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs - What's The Difference?

By December 21, 2004

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Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are two medical terms that are often used interchangeably, but are not really the same.

Plantar fasciitis is the diagnosis given to patients who have pain and inflammation of the tough fibrous tissue that runs along the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis often causes pain under the heel when walking or standing for long periods of time. Plantar fasciitis is extremely common, and while treatment of plantar fasciitis is usually successful, it can take many months.

Heel spurs are spikes of bone seen on the x-ray of the foot. The heel spur is seen under the heel bone and seems to be seen more commonly in patients who have plantar fasciitis. However, heel spurs are also seen in patients without plantar fasciitis, and the heel spur is actually located in a place different from the fibrous tissue that is inflamed in plantar fasciitis. Therefore, heel spurs themselves are probably not that important, rather the plantar fasciitis is the more important issue.

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