A heel spur occurs when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months. Heel spurs are often caused by strains on foot muscles
and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes whose activities include large amounts
of running and jumping. Heel spurs often cause no symptoms but can be associated with intermittent pain, especially while walking, jogging, or running. Sharp pain in the heel can also be experienced
when standing after sitting for a long period of time. Heel spurs can be a result of plantar fasciitis.
At the onset of this condition, pain and swelling become present, with discomfort particularly noted as pushing off with the toes occurs during walking. This movement of the foot stretches the fascia
that is already irritated and inflamed. If this condition is allowed to continue, pain is noticed around the heel region because of the newly formed bone, in response to the stress. This results in
the development of the heel spur. It is common among athletes and others who run and jump a significant amount.
With heel spurs, people often talk about a dull ache which is felt most of the time with episodes of a sharp pain in the center of the heel or on the inside margin of the heel. Often the pain is
worse on first rising in the morning and after rest and is aggravated by prolonged weight bearing and thin-soled shoes.
Most patients who are suffering with heel spurs can see them with an X-ray scan. They are normally hooked and extend into the heel. Some people who have heel spur may not even have noticeable
symptoms, although could still be able to see a spur in an X-ray scan.
Non Surgical Treatment
To aid in the reduction of inflammation, applying ice for 10-15 minutes after activities and the use of anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can be helpful. Corticosteroid
injections may also be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy can be beneficial with the use of heat modalities, such as ultrasound, that create a deep heat and reduce inflammation.
If the pain caused by inflammation is constant, keeping the foot raised above the heart and/or compressed by wrapping with a bandage will help. Taping can help speed the healing process by protecting
the fascia from reinjury, especially during stretching and walking.
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.