Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
The common heel spur is an ailment striking people from a wide range of ages and activity levels. However, the cause of this injury is usually based upon the aggravation of Plantar Fasciitis. Though the two are often used synonymously there is a slight difference. While a heel spur is a condition in which a portion of bone irritates the fascia, the fascia can be inflamed in other manners. However, both conditions are often referred to as bone spurs and that is the term we will use here. By understanding Plantar Fascitiis and how it develops it is possible to take precautionary measures and prevent the onset or further aggravation of this debilitating injury.
Understanding the ailment depends on understanding that the fascia is a fibrous tissue similar to the ligament that stretches from the back of the heel all the way to the front of the foot. The tissue mainly provides support for the arch and gives cushioning to the bone and nerves in the feet while walking or running.
What happens is that somehow an inflammation or slight tear occurs somewhere along the fascia and at that point there is an onset of pain, which is usually felt on or around the heel of the foot. Though the problem seems no less severe than any type of muscle or tissue injury, this one is notoriously hard to heal. However, before steps toward healing occur it is good to know how it develops and what could have contributed toward it in the first place.
Certain people are much more susceptible to heel spurs than the rest. The “at risk” group includes any of the following:
1. The overweight, whom put more pressure and tension on their feet than the average person.
2. The flatfooted (over-pronation) because when they walk the arch collapses stretching the fascia to the maximum.
3. Those with unusually high arches who also stretch the fascia to a larger degree than normal.
4. Those who spend an extended amount of time in footwear that doesn’t fit properly.
5. Those who increase their activity level suddenly and all at once.
Those in the risks groups above can take certain precautions to prevent the onset or relapse of the problem which are to always wear properly fitting shoes which support the arches, to always stretch and regularly exercise the feet to increase flexibility and to gradually increase any activity level over an extended period of time rather than all at once.
Those already suffering from the disorder are advised to try the following treatment plan:
1. Stretching of the foot and calves on a regular basis will help to build flexibility and decrease the chances of re-injury while relieving some of the pain.
2. Taping of the arch so that it is supported can help tremendously in the more acute cases where even walking is painful.
3. Icing always helps, especially if done before after exertion that normally causes pain.
4. Rest and time off of the feet are the main necessities for healing heel spurs. The tissue needs time to heal and the only way that can happen is when you take time from walking and give your feet time to repair.
5. Heel inserts help most suffering from heel spurs but the amount of relief depends on the insert and the location of the injury. It may help to try another brand with a different design if the first one doesn’t help.
6. Anti-Inflammatory medicine can do much to reduce the pain and help quicken the healing process.
7. Activity modification is also a big factor. The important thing is to always gradually build up to more strenuous exercise while remember to stretch both before and after. Following these recommendations can do much to prevent not only heel spurs but other types of injuries as well.
8. The last option for persistent and severe problems is surgery. There are two types of surgeries that can relieve the problem: surgical removal of a portion of the fascia or removal of an actual bone spur that is irritating the tissue. Consult with a physician about which option is recommended for you.