Plantar Fasciitis: What Heel Spur?
One of the most common complaints of the foot is plantar fasciitis. But what is it and what causes it? Fascia comes from the Latin word for band which is appropriate as the plantar fascia is a band-like material that runs from the heel to the base of the toes. Plantar fasciitis is essentially inflammation of this fascia. It is a fairly prevalent condition in runners and casual joggers and can lead to perceived pain at the bottom of the foot and heel.
Typically when one thinks of plantar fasciitis the word heel spur comes to mind. A heel spur is a bony overgrowth at the bottom of the foot that most people think either causes plantar fasciitis or vice versa that plantar fasciitis causes the spur. However, recent research has shown this is not the case. A study on 22 different heel bones with confirmed spurs showed that spurs formed at the origin of a muscle known at the bottom of the foot known as flexor digitorum brevis, not the plantar fascia.
So what does this mean for people that have plantar fasciitis? It is not what is causing the heel spur and it can be managed by activating the right muscles! A great exercise to perform if you think you may have plantar fasciitis is the lift, spread, and drop exercise. Start by lifting your big toe off the ground without lifting the rest of the toes and then dropping it back to the ground. Then try lifting the other toes, spreading them a part, and bringing them back down. To progress this exercise, try lifting each individual up and down to strengthen your foot muscles and keep you pain free!
If this exercise does not work for you, then it may need to be modified to ensure proper activation of the foot musculature. Several treatments exist to assist in doing so, including activating the muscles in stable positions with Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) as well as increasing foot mobility with manipulation, Active Release Technique (ART), and Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) and decreasing inflammation within the fascia using Dry Needling.
Share this article with someone you think may have plantar fasciitis symptoms and encourage them to schedule with us to stay active and keep that foot pain away!
by Senior Intern Alec Domjan
Plantar calcaneal enthesophytes: new observations regarding sites of origin based on radiographic, MR imaging, anatomic, and paleopathologic analysis. Skeletal Radiol. 2003; 32:13-21.