The term heel spur generally refers more specifically to a heel spur, also known as a calcaneal spur. These calcium growths form around the tendons and ligaments of the foot and eventually become
attached to the heel bone. The spurs then continue to grow, piercing the skin of the foot and causing pain and discomfort. When left untreated the spur can continue to grow causing agonizing pain and
even immobilizing the patient.
Athletes who participate in sports that involve a significant amount of jumping and running on hard surfaces are most likely to suffer from heel spurs. Some other risk factors include poor form while
walking which can lead to undue stress on the heel and its nerves and ligaments. Shoes that are not properly fitted for the wearer?s feet. Poor arch support in footwear. Being overweight. Occupations
that require a lot of standing or walking. Reduced flexibility and the thinning of the fat pad along the bottom of the heel, both of which are a typical depreciation that comes with aging.
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 are diagnosed based on the history of pain and tenderness localized to these areas. They are specifically identified when there is point tenderness at the bottom of
the heel, which makes it difficult to walk barefoot on tile or wood floors. X-ray examination of the foot is used to identify the bony prominence (spur) of the heel bone (calcaneus).
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.
More than 90 percent of people get better with nonsurgical treatments. If conservative treatment fails to treat symptoms of heel spurs after a period of 9 to 12 months, surgery may be necessary to
relieve pain and restore mobility. Surgical techniques include release of the plantar fascia, removal of a spur. Pre-surgical tests or exams are required to identify optimal candidates, and it's
important to observe post-surgical recommendations concerning rest, ice, compression, elevation of the foot, and when to place weight on the operated foot. In some cases, it may be necessary for
patients to use bandages, splints, casts, surgical shoes, crutches, or canes after surgery. Possible complications of heel surgery include nerve pain, recurrent heel pain, permanent numbness of the
area, infection, and scarring. In addition, with plantar fascia release, there is risk of instability, foot cramps, stress fracture, and tendinitis.