Heel spur is a hook of bone that protrudes from the bottom of the foot where plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. Pain associated with heel spurs is usually pain from plantar fasciitis, not the
actual bone. Heel spurs are most often diagnosed when a patient has visited a pain specialist or podiatrist for on-going foot pain related to plantar fasciitis; spurs are diagnosed via X-ray of the
foot. Heel spurs are most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged men and women. As noted, most patients with this condition have other podiatry-related pain. This condition is a result of plantar
fasciitis (when the fascia, a thick connective tissue that connects the heel bone and ball of the foot) becomes inflamed. Some 70% of plantar fasciitis patients have a bone spur. Bone spurs are soft
calcium deposits caused from tension in the plantar fascia. When found on an X-ray, they are used as evidence that a patient is suffering from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is typically caused
from repetitive stress disorder. Walking, running, and dancing can cause this with time.
The cause of heel spurs is excessive strain placed on the plantar fascia over a long period of time, as a result of different factors. These factors include incorrect gait, being overweight, ageing
or being in a job that requires a lot of standing on hard floors. It is usually a combination of any of these factors that will bring on the development of heel spurs.
It is important to be aware that heel spurs may or may not cause symptoms. Symptoms are usually related to the plantar fasciitis. You may experience significant pain and it may be worse in the
morning when you first wake up or during certain physical activities such as, walking, jogging, or running.
Sharp pain localized to the heel may be all a doctor needs to understand in order to diagnose the presence of heel spurs. However, you may also be sent to a radiologist for X-rays to confirm the
presence of heel spurs.
Non Surgical Treatment
Over-the-counter or prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications can help temporarily, but can cause side effects with prolonged use - the most significant being gastrointestinal upset,
ulceration and bleeding. Deep tissue massage, taping and other physical therapy modalities can also be helpful. Arch support is highly recommended, either with shoe inserts or custom orthotics made
by podiatrists. If pain continues, a steroid injection at the site of pain may be recommended; however, many physicians do not like injecting around the heel. The side effects of steroids injected in
this area can be serious and worsen symptoms. Complications can include fat necrosis (death of fatty tissue) of the heel and rupture of the plantar fascia.
Most studies indicate that 95% of those afflicted with heel spurs are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don?t improve with
other treatments, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and relieve the
inflammation of the ligament. Sometimes the bone spur is also removed, if there is a large spur (remember that the bone spur is rarely a cause of pain. Overall, the success rate of surgical release
is 70 to 90 percent in patients with heel spurs. One should always be sure to understand all the risks associated with any surgery they are considering.