Plantar fasciitis can often be confused with other conditions as many share some of the same symptoms. These conditions include:
- Heel Spurs/Bone Spurs
- Baxter’s neuritis
- Stress fracture of the calcaneus
Heel Spurs & Bone Spurs
Heel spurs are excess calcium deposits that extend from the bottom of the heel bone. They can be caused by muscle and ligament strains or overstretching in the feet, making this a common condition in athletes.
Pain associated with heel spurs is often described as a sharp pain in the bottoms of their feet and can be relieved with stretching, wearing supportive footwear, or rarely through the surgical removal of the heel spur.
Baxter’s neuritis is a painful condition involving a sensory nerve that runs between the spur and the heel bone. The compression of this nerve may be caused by trauma through physical activity, wearing poorly constructed or ill-fitting shoes, or from other foot conditions such as flat feet or high-arched feel.
Baxter’s neuritis can feel like a tingling, burning, or shooting sensation in the heel of the foot. Footwear with balanced cushion and support or surgical intervention are common methods of treatment.
Arthritis is the time-dependent destruction of joints. Arthritic joints become stiff, painful, swollen, and even unstable as the condition progresses. As there are many joints in the foot, there are many places that arthritis may strike, including the heel, ankle, and even the big toe.
Physical therapy, footwear with a supportive arch, and anti-inflammatory medication can help to relieve pain.
Bursitis is caused by inflammation of the bursa, or the small, fluid-filled sacs that protect the joints, bones, or tendons from the friction of motion. Bursitis of the feet most often affects the heels and the toes.
Bursitis can cause the affected area to be swollen and painful at the heel and can be made worse with walking, direct pressure or physical activity. Resting the feet, stretching, wearing cushioned and supportive footwear, and taking anti-inflammatory medications are effective methods of relieving symptoms.
Ice and basic anti-inflammatory modalities may help as well.
Stress Fracture of the Calcaneus
Stress fractures are hairline cracks or breaks in a bone. These usually occur with over-training and/or poor bone quality. Bone quality is dependent on hormones, nutrition and calcium/D3 intake.
Stress fractures happen in people that begin training after long periods of inactivity or in those over-training for events such as marathons. These typically occur in the calcaneus (heel bone) very close to the area where plantar fasciitis is felt.
Your physician should suspect this based on history and examination; X-rays are often not sensitive enough to detect these and MRI may be necessary.