Heel spurs are a relatively common cause of heel pain. A heel spur is a pointed bone fragment that extends forward from the bottom of the heel from the heel bone, also referred to as a calcaneous.
Serious pain and discomfort often develops with this condition. In many cases, a heel spur develops along with plantar fasciitis which occurs when the plantar fascia ligament becomes inflamed.
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.
Although it may take years to become a problem, once it appears, it may cause considerable suffering. Because of proximity to the tendons, the spur is a source of continuous painful aching. The
sensation has been described as "a toothache in the foot." When you place your weight on the heel, the pain can be sufficient to immobilize you.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are diagnosed based on the history of pain and tenderness localized to these areas. They are specifically identified when there is point tenderness at the bottom of
the heel, which makes it difficult to walk barefoot on tile or wood floors. X-ray examination of the foot is used to identify the bony prominence (spur) of the heel bone (calcaneus).
Non Surgical Treatment
Ice compresses, stretching exercises, night splint for traction of the leg muscles to stretch the muscle in the back of the leg, and massage of the back of the leg, along with padding and heel
cushions are also things that you can do at home. The number one recommendation for relief of heel pain is wearing good shoe gear. Good shoe gear usually consists of a sturdy, solid shoe. Heel pain
is not relieved by a soft, ill supported shoe. Shoes such as Nike, K-Swiss, and Avia are the best shoes for this condition. Custom orthotics are highly recommended. Physical therapy is another way
physicians treat this condition. Ice packs, muscle stimulation, ultra sound, paraffin baths, and the new Plantar Fascitis Night Splint are also helpful. If all these conservative measures fail to
relieve the pain, then surgery is indicated. The newer minimal incision surgeries such as the Endoscopic plantar fasciotomy surgery is extremely beneficial for this condition, and for earlier
ambulation, the use of the newer Cast Walking Boot is recommended.
Sometimes bone spurs can be surgically removed or an operation to loosen the fascia, called a plantar fascia release can be performed. This surgery is about 80 percent effective in the small group of
individuals who do not have relief with conservative treatment, but symptoms may return if preventative measures (wearing proper footwear, shoe inserts, stretching, etc) are not maintained.
If you have not yet developed this condition, you can take steps to protect yourself from it. Most importantly, make it a rule to wear properly fitted footwear. Avoid shoes that have become worn down
in the heel, and don't choose shoes that cause you to walk in an abnormal fashion. Maintaining a healthy weight will ensure that undue pressure isn't being put on the ligaments, tendons and bones of
your feet. If your job requires a great deal of time on your feet, or if you exercise regularly, be sure to balance periods of activity with periods of rest for your feet.