A heel spur is a calcium deposit on the underside of the heel bone, often caused by strain on foot muscles and ligaments. Heel spurs are common among athletes but also tend to develop as we age, as
flexibility decreases. Heel spurs can be painful when associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to
the ball of the foot.
If left untreated, the mild aches associated with this condition can evolve into chronic pain. And as you try to compensate for the pain, your gait may change, which could impact your knee, hip and
Heel spurs can form as a result of repeated strain placed on foot muscles and ligaments as well as from abnormally stretching the band of tissue connecting the heel and ball of the foot. Repeated
injury to the membrane that lines the heel bone can also cause problems as can repeated tight pressure on the back of the heel. The causes can range from excessive walking (especially if unaccustomed
to walking), running or jumping to improperly fitted or worn-out shoes. Runners, volleyball players, and tennis players, people who do step aerobics or stair climbing for exercise, those with flat
feet, pregnant women, the obese and diabetics and those who wear tight-fitting shoes with a high heel are all prone to developing spurs (and plantar fasciitis) more readily.
You may or may not experience any symptoms with your heel spurs. It is normally the irritation and inflammation felt in the tissues around your heel spur that cause discomfort. Heel pain is one of
the first things you may notice, especially when pushing off the ball of your foot (stretches the plantar fascia). The pain can get worse over time and tends to be stronger in the morning, subsiding
throughout the day; although it does return with increased activity. A sharp, poking pain in your heel that feels like you're stepping on a stone can often be felt while standing or walking. You will
sometimes be able to feel a bump on the bottom of your heel, and occasionally bruising may appear.
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
Rest won?t help you in case of pain from the heel spur. When you get up after sleeping for some time, the pain may get worse. The pain worsens after a period of rest. You will feel pain because the
plantar fascia elongates during working which stresses the heel. It is important to see a doctor if you are having consistent pain in you heel. The doctors may advise few or all of the conservative
treatments, stretching exercises, shoe recommendations, shoe inserts or orthotic devices, physical therapy, taping or strapping to rest stressed muscles and tendons. There are some over-the-counter
medicines available for treatment of heel pain. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve) are some such medicines which can help you to get relief from the pain. In case of
biomechanical imbalances causing the pain, a functional orthotic device can help you to get relief. Your doctor may also advise a corticosteroid injection for eliminating the inflammation.
In a small number of cases (usually less than 5 percent), patients may not experience relief after trying the recommendations listed above. It is important that conservative treatments (such as those
listed above) be performed for AT LEAST a year before considering surgery. Time is important in curing the pain from heel spurs, and insufficient treatment before surgery may subject you to potential
complications from the procedure. If these treatments fail, your doctor may consider an operation to loosen the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release.
o help prevent heel and bone spurs, wear properly designed and fitted shoes or boots that provide sufficient room in the toe box so as not to compress the toes. They should also provide cushioning in
appropriate areas to minimize the possibility of the irritation and inflammation that can lead to bone spurs in the feet. If needed, use inserts that provide arch support and a slight heel lift to
help ensure that not too much stress is placed on the plantar fascia. This helps to reduce the possibility of inflammation and overstress. Wearing padded socks can also help by reducing trauma.
Peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that wearing clinically-tested padded socks can help protect against injuries to the skin/soft tissue of the foot due to the effects of impact, pressure
and shear forces. Also consider getting your gait analyzed by a foot health professional for appropriate orthotics. If you have heel pain, toe pain or top-of-the-foot pain, see your doctor or foot
specialist to ensure that a spur has not developed.