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.
Heel spurs occur 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. Risk factors for heel spurs include walking gait abnormalities,which place excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves near the heel. Running or jogging,
especially on hard surfaces. Poorly fitted or badly worn shoes, especially those lacking appropriate arch support. Excess weight and obesity. Other risk factors associated with plantar fasciitis
include increasing age, which decreases plantar fascia flexibility and thins the heel's protective fat pad. Diabetes. Spending most of the day on one's feet. Frequent short bursts of physical
activity. Having either flat feet or high arches.
The pain caused by a calcaneal spur is not the result of the pressure of weight on the point of the spur, but results from inflammation around the tendons where they attach to the heel bone. You
might expect the pain to increase as you walk on the spur, but actually it decreases. The pain is most severe when you start to walk after a rest. The nerves and capillaries adapt themselves to the
situation as you walk. When you rest, the nerves and capillaries rest, also. Then, as you begin to move about again, extreme demands are made on the blood vessels and nerves, which will cause pain
until they again adjust to the spur. If excessive strain has been placed on the foot the day before, the pain may also be greater. A sudden strain, as might be produced by leaping or jumping, can
also increase the pain. The pain might be localized at first, but continued walking and standing will soon cause the entire heel to become tender and painful.
Your doctor will discuss your medical history and will examine your foot and heel for any deformities and inflammation (swelling, redness, heat, pain). He/she will analyze your flexibility,
stability, and gait (the way you walk). Occasionally an x-ray or blood tests (to rule out diseases or infections) may be requested.
Non Surgical Treatment
In case of heel spurs rest is most important. Active sports, running, long walks etc should be avoided to start with. If you?re in a job that requires a lot of standing, take a few days off work.
Rest (or reduced activity) is essential to allow the inflammation from becoming aggrevated. Furthermore, you can use ice packs (placed on the heel for 5-10 minutes) to ?cool down? the inflamed area.
You may take anti-inflammatory medication or apply a topical inflammatory (i.e. a cream) to help reduce inflammation. In addition, there are some simple exercises that should be done daily to help
relieve heel spur pain.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide relief of pain 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. Depending on the presence of excess bony build up, the procedure
may or may not include removal of heel spurs. Similar to other surgical interventions, there are various modifications and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel.
Walk around before you buy shoes. Before you purchase your shoes, do the following. Re-lace the shoes if you're trying on athletic shoes. Start at the farthest eyelets and apply even pressure to the
laces as you come closer to the tongue of the shoe. Make sure that you can wiggle your toes freely inside of the shoe. Also, make sure that you have at enough space between your tallest toe and the
end of the shoe. You should have room equal to about the width of your thumb in the tip of your shoe. Walk around to make sure that the shoe has a firm grip on your heel without sliding up and down.
Walk or run a few steps to make sure your shoes are comfortable. Shoes that fit properly require no break-in period.