Heel spurs are usually under the heel and are generally caused by excessive forces acting on the bone. By far the most common cause of heel spurs is abnormal biomechanics - often the same
biomechanics that cause plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs are not a direct cause of heel pain. They grow in response to the forces of the soft tissue pulling on the bone. Any condition where the foot has
excessive motion can produce tension within the soft tissues acting on the heel.
Heel spurs occur when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months. Heel spurs are often caused by strains on foot muscles
and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes whose activities include large amounts
of running and jumping. Risk factors for heel spurs include walking gait abnormalities,which place excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves near the heel. Running or jogging,
especially on hard surfaces. Poorly fitted or badly worn shoes, especially those lacking appropriate arch support. Excess weight and obesity. Other risk factors associated with plantar fasciitis
include increasing age, which decreases plantar fascia flexibility and thins the heel's protective fat pad. Diabetes. Spending most of the day on one's feet. Frequent short bursts of physical
activity. Having either flat feet or high arches.
The pain caused by a calcaneal spur is not the result of the pressure of weight on the point of the spur, but results from inflammation around the tendons where they attach to the heel bone. You
might expect the pain to increase as you walk on the spur, but actually it decreases. The pain is most severe when you start to walk after a rest. The nerves and capillaries adapt themselves to the
situation as you walk. When you rest, the nerves and capillaries rest, also. Then, as you begin to move about again, extreme demands are made on the blood vessels and nerves, which will cause pain
until they again adjust to the spur. If excessive strain has been placed on the foot the day before, the pain may also be greater. A sudden strain, as might be produced by leaping or jumping, can
also increase the pain. The pain might be localized at first, but continued walking and standing will soon cause the entire heel to become tender and painful.
The proper diagnosis of a heel spur often requires an X-ray. To make this process as convenient for his patients as possible, most clinics have an on-site digital X-ray and diagnostic ultrasound
machines. This can make it unnecessary for patients to visit diagnostic imaging centers, allowing patients to receive more expedient treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
Exercise. If you think your pain is exercise-related, change your exercise routine, environment, or foot-ware, and emphasize movements and/or body parts that do not cause pain. Mind/Body.
Occasionally foot pain can be related to stress. The body may respond with generalized tension that contributes to pain in many areas, including the feet. Hypnosis and guided imagery are worth
exploring if an anatomical problem is not apparent. Supplements. Natural anti-inflammatories can be just as effective as ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain relievers with fewer side effects.
Try one of the following. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) standardized to 5-6% gingerols and 6% shogoals, take one to two 500 mg tablets three to four times daily. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) standardized
to 95% curcuminoids, take 400-600 mg three times daily. Also, be sure that you're wearing well-fitting shoes, the proper shoes for each activity, and that you buy new foot-ware as soon as you notice
signs of wear. You can also take the pressure off your heel with a donut-shaped heel cushion or a heel-raising pad placed in your shoe. Acupuncture can also relieve the pain, as can for some
sufferers, magnetic shoe inserts, although the evidence behind their effectiveness is not conclusive. Osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation can help with soft tissue pain in and around the
More than 90 percent of people get better with nonsurgical treatments. If conservative treatment fails to treat symptoms of heel spurs after a period of 9 to 12 months, surgery may be necessary to
relieve pain and restore mobility. Surgical techniques include release of the plantar fascia, removal of a spur. Pre-surgical tests or exams are required to identify optimal candidates, and it's
important to observe post-surgical recommendations concerning rest, ice, compression, elevation of the foot, and when to place weight on the operated foot. In some cases, it may be necessary for
patients to use bandages, splints, casts, surgical shoes, crutches, or canes after surgery. Possible complications of heel surgery include nerve pain, recurrent heel pain, permanent numbness of the
area, infection, and scarring. In addition, with plantar fascia release, there is risk of instability, foot cramps, stress fracture, and tendinitis.
o help prevent heel and bone spurs, wear properly designed and fitted shoes or boots that provide sufficient room in the toe box so as not to compress the toes. They should also provide cushioning in
appropriate areas to minimize the possibility of the irritation and inflammation that can lead to bone spurs in the feet. If needed, use inserts that provide arch support and a slight heel lift to
help ensure that not too much stress is placed on the plantar fascia. This helps to reduce the possibility of inflammation and overstress. Wearing padded socks can also help by reducing trauma.
Peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that wearing clinically-tested padded socks can help protect against injuries to the skin/soft tissue of the foot due to the effects of impact, pressure
and shear forces. Also consider getting your gait analyzed by a foot health professional for appropriate orthotics. If you have heel pain, toe pain or top-of-the-foot pain, see your doctor or foot
specialist to ensure that a spur has not developed.