When you come to see the podiatrist, it is generally not required to have an x ray for heel pain. Although a spur may be present on your foot – which gives plantar fasciitis its more common name of ‘heel spurs’ – it is not very relevant to the treatment. If you have already read our the Plantar Fasciitis Info Sheet, you will be aware of the mechanism that causes the injury in the first place. To briefly recap, plantar fasciitis comes about when the pulling / elongation strain on the band is too great and it starts to tear. Now, although the spur looks sharp and pointy – and although it might feel like you are standing on an icepick in there – this is not really the case. Look at the adjacent x ray and you will see that the spur points forward in line with the fibres of the fascial band. It doesn’t point down.
Ultimately, it all comes down to this: The pulling causes the pain, the pulling causes the spur, the spur does not cause the pain. Plenty of people have spurs and no pain and plenty have pain and no spurs. If we have an x ray of your foot and you have a spur, we will tape you for immediate relief, discuss footwear choices and probably recommend orthotics. If we have an x ray of your foot and you don’t have a spur but do have plantar fasciitis ? Guess what ? The treatment is exactly the same. Unless the condition is complicated in any other way, the podiatrist won’t generally require x rays. Indeed, useless x rays cost you and your community a lot of money and irradiate your body for no good reason. If we do want them for some reason, we usually like to be very specific about what shots we want so it is best to visit us first and don’t go out of your way to get films taken before your visit. If you already have them though, do of course bring them. They can be useful to count in or out other more complicated conditions and we can run through them with you to explain just what is going in.
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X ray source: Heal My Feet dot com.