MYTH – My Heel Spur is causing my pain.

9 February 2023

If you have an X-ray of your foot and it shows a bony growth at the base of your heel bone this is likely to be a heel spur. It is common that you may think, and may hear, that this would be the cause of your heel pain. Especially because the spur may look sharp – the way your heel pain might feel!

You might be shocked in learning that 1/10 people have a heel spur and only a small percentage of people with a spur have heel pain. Most of the time it is an incidental finding on the X-ray and there may be no correlation with the bony spur and your heel pain.

If the bony spur is exceptionally large, it may be playing the part of impinging a nerve in the heel, which causes a burning, numbness or pins and needles feeling in your foot.

The most common cause of your heel pain and a likely cause of this heel spur is a condition called plantar fasciitis – a degenerative change in the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a long band of tissue spanning from the heel to the toes.

The degenerative change in the plantar fascia is usually from:

  • a biomechanical change in stance and gait causing tension through the tissue.
  • a weakness of the tissue or surrounding structures.
  • other extrinsic factors such as poor footwear.  

When we combat these above causes and fix the issue – more than likely you will recover from this condition and go back to normal function. The only thing that won’t change though is that heel spur – remember it’s just a bony change caused from the plantar fascia pulling too much on the heel bone due to the above factors!

So if you find a heel spur on your x-ray, more than likely it is telling you that there is extra load going through your foot, and if you are in pain – see your Podiatrist.