Heel pain is one of the most common and disabling foot problems in Australia today. Our Podiatrists regularly treat between 5 to 10 cases a day. The most common cause of heel pain is a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis or “Heel Spur Syndrome”. The Plantar Fascia is the thick, inflexible fibrous material on the bottom of the foot connecting the toes and the heel. A painful tearing of the plantar fascia may result in either plantar fasciitis or a heel spur. Recent research suggests this condition is mostly degenerative (due to wear and tear) and most people will experience pain in this region at some stage in their life. Symptoms can last between 6 to 18 months.
A heel spur is a point of excess bone growth on the heel, which usually extends forwards towards the toes. Heel spurs are visible on x-ray but are not the cause of the pain. The pain results from the plantar fascia pulling on the heel and irritating the bone. Treatment for plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome involves addressing the cause of the symptoms. This may include using custom inserts (Orthotics) in shoes to address any excess inward or outward rolling of the feet, to offload pressure from the fascia. Other treatments include specific stretching and strengthening exercises, self massage, changing footwear, physical therapy, acupuncture and shock wave therapy. Cortisone injections and surgery are always the last resort.