A heel spur is a deposit of calcium on the heel bone. This calcification takes the form of a bony protrusion, which can cause considerable pain when standing and walking. This foot problem is closely
related to plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the band of fibrous tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes over-stressed. It pulls away from the heel and causes the calcium deposits to form. For
this reason, treating a heel spur involves treating the plantar fascia as well.
A heel spur can develop when there is an abundance of calcium creating a deposit in the calcaneus, or heel bone. Over time, this deposit grows to create an outcropping under the heel that extends
into the foot. The result is a protrusion that leads to foot pain when pressure is applied, and in some cases, even during rest.
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.
Because the diagnosis of heel spurs can be confused with tarsal tunnel syndrome (as described earlier), most surgeons advocate performing a tarsal tunnel release (or at least a partial tarsal tunnel
release) along with the plantar fascia release. This surgery is about 80percent successful in relieving pain in the small group of patients who do not improve with conservative treatments.
Non Surgical Treatment
In some cases, heel spur pain may not be resolved through conservative treatment options. In those cases, cortisone injections may be used to reduce inflammation associated with the condition,
helping to reduce discomfort. However, treatment options such as these must be discussed in detail with your physician, since more serious forms of treatment could yield negative side effects, such
as atrophy of the heel's fat pad, or the rupture of the plantar fascia ligament. Although such side effects are rare, they are potential problems that could deliver added heel pain.
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.
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.