Heel spurs are a small calcification, which extends into the attachment of the connective tissues from the calcaneus (heel bone). This is easily observed on X-Ray and is very commonly misdiagnosed as
the cause of your pain. Why? Because the wrong type of scan is used and only one foot is examined. Do you know if you have a spur on the other heel, the heel without the pain? Probably? and the heel
spur would have been there long before you had the pain, and will still be there long after the pain is gone. Heel spurs are not the actual cause of heel pain, and are virtually always a secondary
observation or symptom caused by long term pulling on the heel bone.
A heel spur is caused by chronic plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the calcaneus (heel bone) and extending along
the sole of the foot towards the toes.Your plantar fascia acts as a passive limitation to the over flattening of you arch. When your plantar fascia develops micro tears or becomes inflamed it is
known as plantar fasciitis. When plantar fasciitis healing is delayed or injury persists, your body repairs the weak and injured soft tissue with bone. Usually your injured fascia will be healed via
fibroblastic activity. They'll operate for at least six weeks. If your injury persists beyond this time, osteoblasts are recruited to the area. Osteoblasts form bone and the end result is bone (or
calcification) within the plantar fascia or at the calcaneal insertion. These bone formations are known as heel spurs. This scenario is most common in the traction type injury. The additional bone
growth is known as a heel spur or calcaneal spur.
An individual with the lower legs turning inward, a condition called genu valgus or "knock knees," can have a tendency toward excessive pronation. This can lead to a fallen arch and problems with the
plantar fascia and heel spurs. Women tend to suffer from this condition more than men. Heel spurs can also result from an abnormally high arch. Other factors leading to heel spurs include a sudden
increase in daily activities, an increase in weight, or a thinner cushion on the bottom of the heel due to old age. A significant increase in training intensity or duration may cause inflammation of
the plantar fascia. High-heeled shoes, improperly fitted shoes, and shoes that are too flexible in the middle of the arch or bend before the toe joints will cause problems with the plantar fascia and
possibly lead to heel spurs.
The proper diagnosis of a heel spur often requires an X-ray. To make this process as convenient for his patients as possible, most clinics have an on-site digital X-ray and diagnostic ultrasound
machines. This can make it unnecessary for patients to visit diagnostic imaging centers, allowing patients to receive more expedient treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
The heel pain associated with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis may not respond well to rest. If you walk after a night's sleep, the pain may feel worse as the plantar fascia suddenly elongates, which
stretches and pulls on the heel. The pain often decreases the more you walk. But you may feel a recurrence of pain after either prolonged rest or extensive walking. If you have heel pain that
persists for more than one month, consult a health care provider. He or she may recommend conservative treatments such as stretching exercises, shoe recommendations, taping or strapping to rest
stressed muscles and tendons, shoe inserts or orthotic devices, physical therapy. Heel pain may respond to treatment with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen
(Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). In many cases, a functional orthotic device can correct the causes of heel and arch pain such as biomechanical imbalances. In some cases, injection with a corticosteroid
may be done to relieve inflammation in the area.
In a small number of cases (usually less than 5 percent), patients may not experience relief after trying the recommendations listed above. It is important that conservative treatments (such as those
listed above) be performed for AT LEAST a year before considering surgery. Time is important in curing the pain from heel spurs, and insufficient treatment before surgery may subject you to potential
complications from the procedure. If these treatments fail, your doctor may consider an operation to loosen the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release.