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.
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.
Most of the time heel spurs present as pain in the region surrounding the spur, which typically increases in intensity after prolonged periods of rest. Patients may not be able to bear weight on the
afflicted heel comfortably. Running, walking, or lifting heavy weight may exacerbate the issue.
The diagnosis of heel pain and heel spurs is made by a through history of the course of the condition and by physical exam. Weight bearing x-rays are useful in determining if a heel spur is present
and to rule out rare causes of heel pain such as a stress fracture of the heel bone, the presence of bone tumors or evidence of soft tissue damage caused by certain connective tissue disorders.
Non Surgical Treatment
Bone spurs rarely require treatment unless they are causing frequent pain or damaging other tissues. Because heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are so closely related, they are usually treated the same
way. Symptomatic treatment involves rest, especially from the activity that is contributing to the condition and making symptoms worse (although this may not be easy to discover, as problems can
manifest several hours or days after the harmful activity has occurred). If you identify the offending activity, ice is recommended immediately following it. Stretching of the calf muscles after a
short warm up is also a good idea and can be helpful. Stretching exercises that gently lengthen the calm muscle will relax the tissue surrounding the heel and should be done several times a day,
especially in the morning and after prolonged sitting.
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.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can only be prevented by treating any underlying associated inflammatory disease.