A heel spur is an abnormal growth of the heel bone, the largest bone in the foot which absorbs the greatest amount of shock and pressure. Calcium deposits form when the plantar fascia pulls away from
the heel area, causing a bony protrusion, or heel spur to develop. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue located along the bottom surface of the foot that runs from the heel to the
forefoot. Heel spurs can cause extreme pain in the rearfoot, especially while standing or walking.
Heel spurs develop as an abnormal growth in the heel bone due to calcium deposits that form when the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel. This stretching of the plantar fascia is usually the
result of over-pronation (flat feet), but people with unusually high arches (pes cavus) can also develop heel spurs. Women have a significantly higher incidence of heel spurs due to the types of
footwear often worn on a regular basis.
Pain and discomfort associated with heel spurs does not occur from the spur itself. The bone growth itself has no feeling. However, as you move, this growth digs into sensitive nerves and tissue
along the heel of the foot, resulting in severe pain. Pain can also be generated when pushing off with the toes while walking. Swelling along the heel is also common.
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
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.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide pain relief and restore mobility. The type of procedure used is based
on examination and usually consists of releasing the excessive tightness of the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release. The procedure may also include removal of heel spurs.