Plantar fasciitis is the tissue at the bottom of the foot and connects through the toes and the heel bone. When this tissue gets inflamed, the heel begins to pain and this condition is referred to as plantar fasciitis. The pain in the heel is at its peak when you step out of bed first thing in the morning, after a jogging session or after a game of tennis. The pain is severe early in the morning because the tissue contracts during the night and this pain might occur after long periods of standing or while getting up after sitting for a long period. The plantar fascia is called the shock absorber of the feet and supports the arch of the feet. If too much of stress is applied to that shock absorber, it gets inflamed. The major causes contributing to this condition:
Arthritis: People with arthritis tend to suffer with this condition as it causes inflammation to the tendons of the feet.
Excessive physical activity: While indulging in excessive physical activity, the heel bone and the soft tissue on the foot get stressed out too much and lead to plantar fasciitis. Too much strain can be caused while jogging, climbing stairs and walking.
Foot shape: Few people have flat feet and therefore have an odd style of walking thus causing strain to the foot due to uneven distribution of weight on each of the foot.
Ill fitting footwear: Footwear with high heels is a major contributor to feet strain and improper fitting footwear can also cause strain to the feet.
The symptoms for the above condition sets in slowly on one foot, though there are cases where in the pain sets in severely all of a sudden. The following are the most common symptoms:
In normal course home treatment is suggested for such cases; in extreme cases doctors suggest other treatments other than home treatment.
The plantar fascia is a thin band of tissue that supports the arch of the feet. When this tissue is inflamed or torn, there is heel pain and discomfort. Heel spurs are a common cause for Plantar fasciitis. They are soft calcium deposits that are formed due to inflammation and tension in the heel region. By themselves, heel spurs do not cause pain. Pain associated with plantar fasciitis is usually pronounced on waking up in the morning. The pain is sharp and stabbing. There might be numbness and bruising too.
It can surface during periods of prolonged standing or activity. Causes for plantar fasciitis include ill-fitting shoes, flat feet or high arches or stress on the arch of the foot. Persons who are overweight are more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis as also those who spend a large part of the day on their feet. Sudden injury or lack of flexibility of calf muscles can also contribute to developing plantar fasciitis. Pregnant women, recreational athletes and persons who have suddenly gained weight are more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
It is essential to diagnose the condition correctly as the symptoms are sometimes similar to arthritis, heel bone damage or tarsal tunnel syndrome. X-rays aid in correctly identifying the cause for the pain. NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen are prescribed to alleviate the pain. Corticosteroids can give some relief. In severe cases of plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia is detached from the heel bone. Wearing shoes with adequate arch support, rest and corrective exercises such as stretching and strengthening can help in relieving pain and inflammation. Use of ice pack and massage of the foot helps too. A night splint may be fixed to your calf and foot to stretch the leg effectively.
A bony growth formed on a normal bone is termed osteophyte or bone spur. It is an extra bone. Although bone spur can be smooth, it can cause wear and tear with pain in the area when a bone rubs with other bones or soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons or nerves in the body. The most common places in the body where bone spurs occur include the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees and heel.
Causes of bone spurs
The body tries to repair itself by building extra bones. These are formed in response to pressure, rubbing and stress that exist over a period of time. Bone spurs can also be formed due to the aging process. Cartilage breaks down and wears away with age. This leads to pain and swelling in some cases when bone spurs are formed along the edges of the joint. When ligaments get tight, bone spurs could be formed. Activities such as dancing and running that lay stress on the feet, excess weight or poorly fitting shoes could lead to formation of bone spurs.
During such times that long ligament gets inflamed and the bone tries to mend itself, a bone spur can form on the bottom of the heel. Pressure behind the heel from frequently wearing shoes that are too tight can cause bone spur at the back of the heel. This is also popularly called 'pump bump' as women who wear high heels suffer from this.
When tendons move through a narrow space between the top of shoulder and upper arm, they rub on the bones. Bone spurs can form in this narrow area. This can pinch the rotator cuff tendons resulting in irritation, inflammation, stiffness, weakness and pain. This condition is called rotator cuff disorder. It occurs with age and due to repetitive tearing of the tendons, especially among athletes, baseball players and in painters who frequently have to work with arms above their heads. Traumatic injury and poor posture can also be potential bone spur causes and can lead to spine bone spurs.
Bone spur symptoms
Signs and symptoms of bone spurs depend upon their location. A bone spur in the knee is painful to the extent that it can bend your legs and prevent the knee from operating smoothly. A bone spur on the vertebra can narrow the space that contains spinal cord and can cause weakness or numbness in the arms and legs. A bone spur in the hip can make movement painful and reduce the range of the hip joint. Bone spurs in the shoulder can hinder rotator cuff movement. Bone spur in fingers appear as hard lumps under the skin and they can make the joints in the fingers look knobbly. When bone spurs begin to press on other bones or tissues thereby causing a muscle or tendon to rub, they can break that tissue can cause swelling, pain, and tearing. Bone spurs in the foot can cause corns and calluses when tissue builds up to provide an added pad over the bone spur.
Bone spur diagnosis
A bone spur is visible through an x-ray. But it is rare to take x ray just to see whether a person has bone spur or not. For instance if an X ray is taken to evaluate, say, an arthritis problem, bone spurs should be visible. During physical exam the doctor can feel around the joints to determine exactly where the pain comes from.
Treatment of bone spurs
As such bone spurs do not require any treatment unless they cause pain and damage to other tissues. Treatment should be directed at the causes, symptoms rather than the bone spurs themselves. Such treatment aimed at the cause of bone spurs include weight loss to take the pressure off the joints and for stretching the affected area when bone spurs occur in the heel cord or at the bottom of the your feet. In the case of plantar fasciitis and shoulder pain, it is better to get an ultrasound done or deep tissue massage on the advice of a physical therapist. Treatment could include rest, ice, stretching and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Learn to protect your joints in case you are suffering osteoarthritis. In case of bone spur on the foot, changing footwear or adding padding or a shoe insert may help. A podiatrist may be consulted if the corns and calluses become bigger problems. A doctor could suggest a corticosteroid injection at the painful area to reduce pain and inflammation if the spur continues to cause symptoms. Bone spurs can be surgically removed or treated as part of surgery to repair or replace a joint when osteoarthritis has caused considerable deformity or if the range of motion becomes limited.
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 8, 2023