Heel spurs are bony growths on the underside of the heel bone caused by tension from a tight plantar fascia ligament. Sometimes they are found in people with plantar fasciitis, but they are rarely the source of pain. In fact, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are often confused and although they are related they are not always the same condition. Spurs result from strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing away of the lining or membrane that covers the heel bone. The body, as a protective mechanism, creates a spur in this area to further support the plantar fascia and limit further tearing of the plantar fascia. Close to 70% of patients with plantar fasciitis have a heel spur that can be seen on an X-ray, but rarely are these painful. Current studies now show that heel spurs rarely need to be treated, and heel pain can be resolved even when leaving the spur untreated. 
Brandt R Gibson, DPM
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Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute