A heel spur is a pointed bony outgrowth of the bone of the heel (the calcaneus bone). They are attributed to chronic local inflammation at the insertion of soft tissue tendons or fascia in the area.
Heel spurs can be located at the back of the heel or under the heel, beneath the sole of the foot. Heel spurs at the back of the heel are frequently associated with inflammation of the Achilles
tendon (tendinitis) and cause tenderness and pain at the back of the heel made worse while pushing off the ball of the foot.
Heel spurs can be caused by several things. Anything that can cause the body to rebuild itself can lead to a bone spur. A heel spur is a natural reaction of the body to correct a weakness by building
extra bone. One of the most common causes for the development of heel spurs is the wearing of shoes that are too tight. That?s why more women suffer from heel spurs more than men. Athletes who tend
to stress their feet a lot, people are overweight who have more pressure on their lower extremities and the elderly also tend to suffer more from heel spurs.
The vast majority of people who have heel spurs feel the asscociated pain during their first steps in the morning. The pain is quite intense and felt either the bottom or front of the heel bone.
Typically, the sharp pain diminishes after being up for a while but continues as a dull ache. The pain characteristically returns when first standing up after sitting for long periods.
A heel spur is often seen on X-ray as a bony protrusion, which can vary in size. However, because a Heel Spur only indicates increased load on the plantar fascia, and not pain, an ultra sound may be
required to assess other actual cause of the heel pain such and may include checking to see if the plantar fascia is inflamed or degenerated.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel spurs can be treated by wearing orthotic insoles inside the shoe. Orthotics are designed to correct incorrect gait, in particular over-pronation (rolling in of the foot and collapsing of the
arches). Over-pronation is a very common foot condition, affecting at least half of the population. It is a major contributing cause of heel spurs. Orthotics are very effective in that the device
corrects the foot to its natural position. By supporting the arches properly and preventing excess rolling in of the foot, the plantar fascia is placed under much less strain and stress compared to
an unsupported foot. Less strain on the ligament means less pulling away from the heel bone, allowing the inflammation to heal faster. In addition to orthotic treatment, most podiatrists and
physiotherapists recommend a series of exercises to help make the ligaments in the feet and legs longer and more flexible. In turn this will help reduce strain on the plantar fascia.
Surgery involves releasing a part of the plantar fascia from its insertion in the heel bone, as well as removing the spur. Many times during the procedure, pinched nerves (neuromas), adding to the
pain, are found and removed. Often, an inflamed sac of fluid call an accessory or adventitious bursa is found under the heel spur, and it is removed as well. Postoperative recovery is usually a
slipper cast and minimal weight bearing for a period of 3-4 weeks. On some occasions, a removable short-leg walking boot is used or a below knee cast applied.
Prevention of heel spur syndrome may be best by finding a good supportive shoe. Never go barefoot or wear a flat soled shoe. There are many over the counter arch supports that give increased support
for your feet. Usually when there is excessive pronation the Achilles Tendon contracts or becomes shortened over time since it is not being used fully. The shortened Achilles Tendon is called an
equinus deformity. By keeping this tendon stretched it may decrease some of the tension in the foot. Some theories believe the Achilles Tendon and plantar fascia is continuous. Before you get up from
rest, stretch out your Achilles and the plantar fascia. You may attempt to spell the alphabet with your foot and ankle, use a towel against pressure on your foot, or roll a can of soup or sodapop on
the ground. Ice may work well at the times of severe pain. For a chronic pain, or longer lasting pain heat therapy may improve the condition.