Heel spurs refer to the abnormal accumulation of calcium deposits on the heel of the foot. Vigorous, repetitive movements often result in the formation of heel spurs, but inflammatory diseases (e.g.,
arthritis) may also increase the occurrence of painful heel spurs. Treatments that have proven to be effective for heel spurs include injections that contain a combination of steroids and anesthesia
as well as radiofrequency ablation. However, a bone spur that begins to protrude excessively may need to be removed through surgery.
These bony protrusions are commonly found in association with a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament, which spans the arch of the foot,
becomes stressed, torn and inflamed. Misalignment and excessive movement of the plantar fascia ligament is most typically the result of an abnormal walking gait. The ligament is designed to stretch
with the bounce of each step you take, but if it stretches too much, the resulting small tears and inflammation can cause mild to extreme discomfort. At the same time, it is believed that heel spurs
are formed as the body attempts to provide some additional support to the over-stretched ligament. In other words, calcium builds up as a prop to the plantar fascia.
Heel spurs often cause no symptoms. But heel spurs can be associated with intermittent or chronic pain, especially while walking, jogging, or running, if inflammation develops at the point of the
spur formation. In general, the cause of the pain is not the heel spur itself but the soft-tissue injury associated with it. Many people describe the pain of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis as a
knife or pin sticking into the bottom of their feet when they first stand up in the morning, a pain that later turns into a dull ache. They often complain that the sharp pain returns after they stand
up after sitting for a prolonged period of time.
Sharp pain localized to the heel may be all a doctor needs to understand in order to diagnose the presence of heel spurs. However, you may also be sent to a radiologist for X-rays to confirm the
presence of heel spurs.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are many ways to treat heel spurs. Some remedies you can even do at home once a podiatrist shows you how. Heel spur treatment is very similar to treatment of plantar fasciitis. Here are a few
of the most common treatments. First, your doctor will assess which activities are causing your symptoms and suggest rest and time off from these activities. Ice packs are used to control pain and
reduce symptoms. Certain exercises and stretches help you to feel relief quickly. Medications that reduce inflammation and decrease pain are also used. Sometimes cortisone injections are given. Often
special shoe orthotics can help to take the pressure off of the plantar fascia and reduce symptoms. Night splints that keep your heel stretched are sometimes recommended. Rarely, surgery is an
option. A new treatment called extracorporeal shock wave therapy is being studied.
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.