Heel spurs, or abnormal growths of the heel bone, can cause sharp pains in the heel, especially first thing in the morning and after long periods of rest. In many cases, a heel spur develops as a
result of plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation of the ligament that stretches along the bottom of the foot, from the base of the toes to the heel. In individuals who suffer from plantar
fasciitis, the ligament pulls away from the heel as the foot bears weight. In an effort to stabilize the ligament, the body may produce calcium deposits, which can then develop into heel spurs.
A bone spur forms as the body tries to repair itself by building extra bone. It generally forms in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a long period of time. Some bone spurs
form as part of the aging process. As we age, the slippery tissue called cartilage that covers the ends of the bones within joints breaks down and eventually wears away (osteoarthritis). Bone spurs
due to aging are especially common in the joints of the spine and feet.
Most people think that a bone "spur" is sharp and produces pain by pressing on tissue, when in fact, these bony growths are usually smooth and flat. Although they rarely cause pain on their own, bone
spurs in the feet can lead to callus formation as tissue builds up to provide added cushion over the area of stress. Over time, wear and tear on joints may cause these spurs to compress neighboring
ligaments, tendons or nerves, thus injuring tissue and causing swelling, pain and tearing.
A Diagnosis of Heel Spur Syndrome is a very common reason for having heel pain. Heel pain may be due to other types of conditions such as tendonitis, Haglund's Deformity, Stress Fracture, Tarsal
Tunnel Syndrome, or low back problems. A more common condition in children is Sever's Disease. The diagnosis is usually made with a combination of x-ray examination and symptoms.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel spurs are considered a self-limited condition, which means that by making small alterations in your lifestyle and regular routines you can often control the condition. The goal is to relieve
pain, reduce friction and transfer pressure from your sensitive foot areas. By eliminating the cause of the heel spur and plantar fasciitis (i.e. better shoes, orthotics to fix your gait, losing
weight) will help reduce the pressure put on your fascia and heel and can reduce the inflammation caused by your heel spur. Failure to see improvements after conservative treatments may make surgery
your only option.
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.