A heel spur is a pointed bony outgrowth of the bone of the heel (the calcaneus bone). They are attributed to chronic local inflammation at the insertion of soft tissue tendons or fascia in the area.
Heel spurs can be located at the back of the heel or under the heel, beneath the sole of the foot. Heel spurs at the back of the heel are frequently associated with inflammation of the Achilles
tendon (tendinitis) and cause tenderness and pain at the back of the heel made worse while pushing off the ball of the foot.
Though this syndrome is most common in individuals 40 years or older, it can occur at any age. The following factors increase the likelihood of heel spur development. An uneven gait which applies too
much pressure to certain areas of the foot. Being overweight. Wearing worn shoes or ill-fitting footwear. Job conditions that require long periods spent standing or lifting heavy objects. The normal
aging process which results in a decrease in ligament elasticity.
If your body has created calcium build-ups in an effort to support your plantar fascia ligament, each time you step down with your foot, the heel spur is being driven into the soft, fatty tissue
which lines the bottom of your heel. Heel spur sufferers experience stabbing sensations because the hard protrusion is literally being jabbed into the heel pad. If left untreated, Plantar Fasciitis
and heel spurs can erode the fatty pad of the heel and cause permanent damage to the foot. Fortunately, most cases can be resolved without medications or surgeries.
A thorough history and physical exam is always necessary for the proper diagnosis of heel spurs and other foot conditions. X rays of the heel area are helpful, as excess bone production will be
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatments for bone spurs and plantar fasciitis include Stretching the calf muscles several times daily is critical in providing tension relief for the plantar fascia. Some physicians may recommend
using a step to stretch, while others may encourage yoga or pushing against a wall to stretch. Icing after activity. A frozen tennis ball can provide specific relief. Rolling the tennis ball under
the arch of the foot after exercise can lessen pain in the area. Taping is also recommended at times. Several manufacturers of sports tape have plantar fascia specific lines. Orthotics are a good
idea for those on their feet during the day. Orthotics can provide cushioning and relief. Cortisone shots in the fascia can provide temporary anti-inflammatory relief. Losing weight is perhaps the
most effective method of improving heel and foot pain. Those who are overweight are far more likely to report these syndromes.
Approximately 2% of people with painful heel spurs need surgery, meaning that 98 out of 100 people do well with the non-surgical treatments previously described. However, these treatments can
sometimes be rather long and drawn out, and may become considerably expensive. Surgery should be considered when conservative treatment is unable to control and prevent the pain. If the pain goes
away for a while, and continues to come back off and on, despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain really never goes away, but reaches a plateau, beyond which it does
not improve despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain requires three or more injections of "cortisone" into the heel within a twelve month period, surgery should be
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.