policeman's heel

Why is it called Policeman’s heel?

Policeman’s heel is an old name that used to be used to refer to the heel pain that was common in the police when they used to spend so many hours on the beat walking around doing police things. Any activity done to excessive amounts will increase the risk of a wide range of musculoskeletal problems, including heel pain.

Most references these days to Policeman’s heel talk about it being another name for what we now call plantar fasciitis or plantar heel pain. It is not clear when that came about as the early and historical descriptions of Policeman’s heel did not describe painful symptoms that would have been plantar fasciitis. Historically, Policeman’s heel referred to what was considered to be a plantar calcaneal bursitis which is not the same as plantar fasciitis, even though both do cause plantar heel pain. Plantar calcaneal bursitis is very uncommon. Plantar fasciitis is very common.

If a health professional tells you that you have Policemens heel, then clarify what are they talking about. Are the referring to plantar fasciitis (which is not what it historically refers to) or a plantar calcaneal bursitis (which is what it did probably historically refer to). They both cause plantar heel pain but they are different entities that have different treatment approaches.

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University lecturer, clinician, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger, dad