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The difference between Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous band that runs across the sole of the foot.

Heel spurs are soft deposits of calcium that appear when the plantar fascia has been under constant strain. The plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone and the front of the foot, and acts to support the arch of the foot. When it is constantly pulled and irritated, the heel bone begins to deposit calcium outwards in the shape of a spur.

Originally it was thought that the heel spur was a cause of heel pain. However we now know that this is not the case – the plantar fasciitis causes the heel pain, not the heel spur. To illustrate this, 1 in 10 people has a heel spur, however only 1 in 20 people with heel spurs has heel pain. In other words 10% of people have heel spurs and only 5% of these people have foot pain.

Risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis or heel spurs:

  • Tight calf muscles
  • Flat foot
  • High foot arches
  • Overweight
  • High impact activity (jumping, running)
  • New or increased activity

So now that we know heel spurs are not the cause of heel pain, how do we treat the painful heel?

Regardless of whether there is a heel spur present, the treatment remains the same. It is dictated by the individual’s assessment results, meaning that once we can see what is causing the condition, we treat that directly.

This could involve a combination of treatments including taping, padding, orthotics (shoe inserts), shcokwave therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises.

If you are concerned about your heel pain, seek treatment today.

Laura RabjohnsThe difference between Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis