What are Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are small hook shaped, bony growths that originate underneath the heel bone “Calcaneus”. It is not known why these spurs occur in this area but there is evidence suggesting that they maybe related to another foot condition called Plantar Fasciitis. The Plantar fascia is a thick, flat tissue underneath the foot that connects the toes to the rear of the foot which also forms the arch of the foot. Plantar Fasciitis is when this tissue becomes inflamed and painful and is often uncomfortable to stand or walk on for long periods. Heel spurs and the Plantar Fascia are linked because the bony spur often grows through the Plantar Fascia which may lead to Plantar Fasciitis. Some people can have heel spurs and have no pain or restrictions in movement where as others will feel pain underneath the heel and arch of the foot.
Heel spurs can be treated using different methods. Physiotherapy should be your first point of call as it is more conservative than other methods such as surgical removal. Physiotherapy not only assists with reducing pain, inflammation and swelling but also looks at why the issue is there to begin with. There is evidence to suggest that abnormal foot position during standing and walking or decreased flexibility in the lower leg and ankle may increase your chances of developing Plantar Fasciitis or heel spurs. It’s best to get your feet checked out by a physiotherapist before you go down the road towards surgery. The feet can be analysed by a machine called a Gaitscan which basically takes a digital imprint of the bottom of your feet which can often determine whether or not the feet are in a neutral position when walking. Orthotics are often prescribed for people with heel spurs as they can assist with recorrecting the foot position and also provide comfort to the user whilst they are recovering from the pain and inflammation caused by the heel spur.
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