How do I know if I have a heel spur?
Do you have pain in the arch or heel of your foot when you put your foot down to walk in the morning? Are you experiencing foot pain with exercise?
You may well be suffering from a condition called plantar fasciitis (‘plantar fasciosis’). The plantar fascia provides load absorption for the arch of the foot. Under some circumstances, it can become painful and interfere with daily and recreational activities.
What is the difference between a heel spur and plantar fasciitis/fasciosis?
Often the first diagnosis a person receives for their arch pain is a ‘heel spur’, which is a bony growth that forms on the front of the heel, over a long period of time. This is often as a result of chronic pulling of the plantar fascia from its attachment on the bone. As x-ray is often the first investigation and plantar fascia pain does not show on x-ray, a heel spur may appear to be the explanation for the pain. However, a heel spur itself is usually not painful, and therefore plantar fasciosis may be more likely the source of your pain.
Do I need an X-ray?
An X-ray is usually not required when determining a diagnosis and typically does not help guide the diagnosis or treatment.
What causes plantar fasciitis/fasciosis?
Plantar fasciosis symptoms may be noticed during activities such as prolonged walking, running and dancing. Often, a significant rapid increase in the amount of load or activity may lead to pain, as the tissue has been unable to adapt quickly enough. You may also have other factors that lead to your symptoms including insufficient strength or conditioning, biomechanical problems, or poor technique with an activity or movement. Plantar fasciosis pain is likely multi-factorial, but in essence, it results from a reduced capacity for the tissue to support the demands placed on it.
How do you get rid of a heel spur? Does it go away on its own?
Your symptoms will likely need some treatment to help them resolve. Physiotherapists are experts at treating this condition. To address the problem your physiotherapist can assess the factors contributing to your pain, and confirm a diagnosis on the basis of a clinical assessment.
What are the treatment options for heel spurs?
Treatment according to evidence will usually consist of a progressive rehabilitation program to expose the painful tissue to functional load and to allow it to repair. Rest alone is not a solution to the problem, as pain will often just come back when activity is resumed, as the tissue has not been forced to adapt!
If you are suffering from heel pain, have been told you have a heel spur, or a heel spur is present on an X-ray, don’t stress, physiotherapy can help.
At Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions our physiotherapists are experts at managing foot conditions. If you are suffering from foot pain, an early diagnosis and appropriate management will help keep you on your feet.