A heel spur is a hook of bone that can form on the heel bone of the foot. Heel spurs are associated with plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs can cause extreme pain in the rearfoot. The pain is most intense
while standing or walking. What Causes Heel Spurs? Heel spurs develop as an abnormal growth in the heel bone due to calcium deposits that form when the plantar fascia stretches and pulls away from
the heel. The plantar fascia is a ligament located at the bottom of your foot. This stretching of the plantar fascia is usually the result of flat feet or unusually high arches.
When a bone is subjected to pressure, rubbing, or other stress over long periods, it tries to repair itself by building extra bone. This extra bone is what is referred to as a ?spur?. Many form as
part of the aging process when cartilage breaks down in the joints.
The spur itself is not painful, however, if it is sharp and pointed it can poke into soft tissue surrounding the spur itself. As the bone spur irritates the tissue, inflammation and bruising can
occur leading to heel pain. Heel spurs can affect your ability to do your usual work and/or activities, and can also trap and irritate the nerves in your heel area. They can change the way you walk,
and can lead to knee, hip and low back injuries. If severe, they may require medical intervention.
The diagnosis of heel pain and heel spurs is made by a through history of the course of the condition and by physical exam. Weight bearing x-rays are useful in determining if a heel spur is present
and to rule out rare causes of heel pain such as a stress fracture of the heel bone, the presence of bone tumors or evidence of soft tissue damage caused by certain connective tissue disorders.
Non Surgical Treatment
FIRST, Reduce the acute pain. This is done by a combination of several things; injection of a synthetic relative of cortisone into the heel, a prescription of anti-inflammatory pills to reduce
inflammation, physical therapy and a special heel pad. About 50% of the time, these treatments will permanently relieve the pain. In the other 50%, the pain becomes recurrent, and the treatment
proceeds to Stage II. SECOND, Recurrent, painful heel spur is caused by the tug and pull of the plantar fascia ligament on the heel bone with each step. When the pain is recurrent, arch supports are
made to prevent sagging of the arch. The arch supports are custom-made according to the size and shape of the feet. This prevents the arch from sagging and the ligament from tugging and pulling on
the heel bone. The inflammation and pain eventually go away as the first phase of treatment is continued along with the arch supports, although the spur itself remains. THIRD, Surgery to remove the
spur is possible and is usually done as Day Surgery.
Surgery is used a very small percentage of the time. It is usually considered after trying non-surgical treatments for at least a year. Plantar fascia release surgery is use to relax the plantar
fascia. This surgery is commonly paired with tarsal tunnel release surgery. Surgery is successful for the majority of people.