Heel Spur or Plantar Fasciitis?

Heel Spur or Plantar Fasciitis?

There is a tendency at the moment for pretty much any heel problem to be labelled as a heel spur. From a medical point of view, though, only one problem is actually called a heel spur and that is calcium formation on the bone of the heel. This will appear on X-rays, but it is very rare for it to be painful.

The majority of heel pains are actually caused by plantar fasciitis – strain on the tendons that run along the length of the foot (the plantar fascia).

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Humans did not evolve wearing shoes or walking on nice, paved surfaces. Our feet developed for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, walking barefoot on uneven ground. This would exercise the tendons of the foot, as they would continuously adjust according to the ground our ancestors stepped on.

Walking in arch-supporting shoes on a smooth, artificial surface might be more comfortable, but it also restricts the movement of these tendons that evolved to get regular exercise.

Underused, these tendons become less elastic over time, until they become vulnerable to damage from even slight strain. This will lead to a form of inflammation known as plantar fasciitis.

Most commonly, plantar fasciitis results in pain along the length of the foot from the heel bone forward. However, sometimes the pain can manifest in the heel cushion, the side of the foot, the top of the foot, or even the Achilles tendon.

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