There are approximately 75 different causes of heel pain. At least 80% of all heel pain is due to heel spurs. A heel spur contains calcium, but cannot truly be called a calcium deposit. Bone spurs,
whether they are on the heel or on any other bone of the body, are true bone -- they are true enlargements of the bone and may be sharp and pointed, or round and knobby. Since bone spurs are true
bone, they contain calcium just like regular bones, but are not pure calcium deposits.
This condition is a constellation of many causes; overweight, ill fitting shoes, bio-mechanical problems (mal-alignment of the heel), gout, pronation (a complex motion including outward rotation of
the heel and inward rotation of the ankle) and rheumatoid arthritis are some of the causes of heel pain.
The vast majority of people who have heel spurs feel the asscociated pain during their first steps in the morning. The pain is quite intense and felt either the bottom or front of the heel bone.
Typically, the sharp pain diminishes after being up for a while but continues as a dull ache. The pain characteristically returns when first standing up after sitting for long periods.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your heel spur or plantar
fasciitis they will investigate WHY you are likely to be predisposed to heel spurs and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays will show calcification or bone within
the plantar fascia or at its insertion into the calcaneus. This is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or
calcification. Pathology tests may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Conventional treatment for heel spurs typically includes rest, stretching exercises, icing and anti-inflammatory medications. Many people find it difficult to go through the day without some sort of
routine activity or exercise, and this prolongs the heel spur and forces people to rely on anti-inflammatory medications for a longer period of time. This can be detrimental due to the many side
effects of these medications, including gastrointestinal problems like leaky gut, bleeding and ulcer symptoms.
Sometimes bone spurs can be surgically removed or an operation to loosen the fascia, called a plantar fascia release can be performed. This surgery is about 80 percent effective in the small group of
individuals who do not have relief with conservative treatment, but symptoms may return if preventative measures (wearing proper footwear, shoe inserts, stretching, etc) are not maintained.