A heel spur occurs when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone. The abnormal calcium deposits form when the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel. This stretching of the
plantar fascia is common among people who have flat feet, but people with unusually high arches can also develop this problem. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes who do a lot of running
and jumping. Also, women who wear high heels have a significantly higher incidence of heel spurs. Still, it can happen to anyone.
It is widely accepted now that the presence of this bony growth is not the cause of heel pain, but rather an effect of an underlying biomechanical foot problem where the soft tissue structures that
are attached to the heel bone are pulling excessively on that area. At some point down the track, heel pain may develop, but the bony heel spur is not the cause of the heel pain.
Heel spurs often do not show any symptoms. If you have intermittent or chronic pain when you walk, run or jog, it may be heel spur. There will be inflammation the point where spur formation happens.
The pain is caused by soft tissue injury in the heel. Patients often describe the pain as a pin or knife sticking to the heel. The pain is more specially in the morning when the patient stands up for
the first time.
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
Initially, treatment usually consists of a combination of ice therapy, stretching exercises to improve flexibility (especially in the mornings), anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy.
Most patients will also need custom-molded orthotics to help control the motion in the foot and arch, which takes the strain off the plantar fascia. If the pain continues, a cortisone injection may
be used to calm the severe swelling and pain. There may the need for a night splint to maintain a stretch in the plantar fascia throughout the night.
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.
A variety of steps can be taken to avoid heel pain and accompanying afflictions. Wear shoes that fit well-front, back, and sides-and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel
counters. Wear the proper shoes for each activity. Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles. Prepare properly before exercising. Warm up and do stretching exercises before and after
running. Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities. Don't underestimate your body's need for rest and good nutrition. If obese, lose weight.