Painful feet are very debilitating. Pain in the heel area is especially common and may be associated with a heel (calcaneal) spur.
Our feet are made up of a series of small bones, known as the tarsal bones. These tarsal bones, starting from the heel (calcaneus) form an arch, which is supported by a strong band of sinew (plantar fascia) stretching across the sole of the foot below the surface of the skin.
We use our feet all the time and this fascia causes constant tugging on the attachment point into the bone, and inflammation and pain may develop at this site. This painful condition is known as plantar fasciitis.
Sometimes a sharp ‘spur’ develops at the site of this traction on the bone and protrudes into the surrounding tissue. But the pain is usually due to the plantar fasciitis, rather than the heel spur itself.
Inadequate arch support from poor footwear is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. As the arch is collapsing the plantar fascia is placed under great stress and often other muscles of the foot and lower leg are utilised to help stabilise. The result is marked joint restriction and muscular tension with pain in the foot and lower leg.
Osteopaths will not only advise you on appropriate footwear and exercises but will work to increase the joint range of motion and flexibility of muscles in the feet and lower leg.
In some situations use of heel cups and arch supports may be beneficial.