Heel Spurs are deposits of calcium in the heel area of the foot that are the typically the result of tension, abrasion and/or inflammation in the plantar fascia attachment to the heel. The heel spur
itself is said not to be painful. The pain likely arises from the inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia encapsulates muscles in the sole of the foot. It supports the arch of the foot
by acting as a bowstring to connect the ball of the foot to the heel. Common causes of heel spurs include excessive load on the foot from obesity or a sudden increase in weight, a sudden increase in
walking or sports activities.
The pain caused by heel spurs can be a sharp, stabbing pain when using the foot after a long period of rest. Sometimes it then reduces to a dull throb that can worsen when engaging in activities like
jogging or jumping. People sometimes describe the pain of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis as a pin sticking into the bottom of the foot when they first stand up in the morning, this pain later turns
into a bearable ache. The cause of the pain is generally not the heel spur itself, but the soft-tissue buildup associated with it. People often complain that the sharp pain returns after they stand
up following sitting for a prolonged period of time.
Most people think that a bone "spur" is sharp and produces pain by pressing on tissue, when in fact, these bony growths are usually smooth and flat. Although they rarely cause pain on their own, bone
spurs in the feet can lead to callus formation as tissue builds up to provide added cushion over the area of stress. Over time, wear and tear on joints may cause these spurs to compress neighboring
ligaments, tendons or nerves, thus injuring tissue and causing swelling, pain and tearing.
The proper diagnosis of a heel spur often requires an X-ray. To make this process as convenient for his patients as possible, most clinics have an on-site digital X-ray and diagnostic ultrasound
machines. This can make it unnecessary for patients to visit diagnostic imaging centers, allowing patients to receive more expedient treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
The key for the proper treatment of heel spurs is determining what is causing the excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. When the cause is over-pronation (flat feet), an orthotic with rear foot
posting and longitudinal arch support is an effective device to reduce the over-pronation, and allow the condition to heal. Other common treatments include stretching exercises, losing weight,
wearing shoes that have a cushioned heel that absorbs shock, and elevating the heel with the use of a heel cradle, heel cup, or orthotic. Heel cradles and heel cups provide extra comfort and cushion
to the heel, and reduce the amount of shock and shear forces experienced from everyday activities.
Surgery is used a very small percentage of the time. It is usually considered after trying non-surgical treatments for at least a year. Plantar fascia release surgery is use to relax the plantar
fascia. This surgery is commonly paired with tarsal tunnel release surgery. Surgery is successful for the majority of people.
A variety of steps can be taken to avoid heel pain and accompanying afflictions. Wear shoes that fit well-front, back, and sides-and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel
counters. Wear the proper shoes for each activity. Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles. Prepare properly before exercising. Warm up and do stretching exercises before and after
running. Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities. Don't underestimate your body's need for rest and good nutrition. If obese, lose weight.