A bone spur (osteophyte) is a bony growth that forms along the edge of normal bone in response to wear and tear, most frequently in the joints. A heel spur is a bone spur of the heel bone, which
causes heel pain by rubbing on the achilles tendon or other soft tissues.
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.
Heel spurs can be quite painful, but can just as likely occur with no symptoms at all. Plantar fasciitis is a contributing condition to heel spurs. The cause of the pain is not the heel spur itself
but the soft-tissue injury associated with it. The feeling has been described as a knife or pin sticking into the bottom of your feet when you first stand up after sitting or laying down for a long
period of time - a pain that later turns into a dull ache.
The diagnosis of heel pain and heel spurs is made by a through history of the course of the condition and by physical exam. Weight bearing x-rays are useful in determining if a heel spur is present
and to rule out rare causes of heel pain such as a stress fracture of the heel bone, the presence of bone tumors or evidence of soft tissue damage caused by certain connective tissue disorders.
Non Surgical Treatment
Get some rest. You need to stay off of your aching foot as much as possible for at least a week. Think about possible causes of the problem while you're resting and figure out how you can make some
changes. Some actions that can contribute to heel spurs include running too often or running on hard surfaces such as concrete, tight calf muscles, shoes with poor shock absorption. Ease back into
your activities. In many cases, you'll be in too much pain to go ahead with a strenuous exercise routine that puts pressure or impact on your heel. Listen to your body and switch to different
activities such as swimming or riding a bike until your heel spurs improve.
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.
In order to prevent heel spurs, it?s important that you pay attention to the physical activities you engage in. Running or jogging on hard surfaces, such as cement or blacktop, is typical for
competitive runners, but doing this for too long without breaks can lead to heel spurs and foot pain. Likewise, the shoes you wear can make a big difference in whether or not you develop heel spurs.
Have your shoes and feet checked regularly by our Dallas podiatrist to ensure that you are wearing the proper equipment for the activities. Regular checkups with a foot and ankle specialist can help
avoid the development of heel spurs.