Heel spurs are a common foot problem resulting from excess bone growth on the heel bone. The bone growth is usually located on the underside of the heel bone, extending forward to the toes. One
explanation for this excess production of bone is a painful tearing of the plantar fascia connected between the toes and heel. This can result in either a heel spur or an inflammation of the plantar
fascia, medically termed plantar fascitis. Because this condition is often correlated to a decrease in the arch of the foot, it is more prevalent after the age of six to eight years, when the arch is
Bone spurs can form anywhere in the feet in response to tight ligaments, repetitive stress injuries (typically from sports), obesity, even poorly fitting shoes. For instance, when the plantar fascia
on the bottom of the foot pulls repeatedly on the heel, the ligament becomes inflamed, causing plantar fasciitis. As the bone tries to mend itself, a bone spur forms on the bottom of the heel,
typically referred to as a heel spur. This is a common source of heel pain.
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.
Your doctor will review your medical history and examine your foot. X-rays are used to identify the location and size of the heel spur.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are treated by measures that decrease the associated inflammation and avoid reinjury. Local ice applications both reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy
methods, including stretching exercises, are used to treat and prevent plantar fasciitis. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or injections of cortisone, are often helpful. Orthotic
devices or shoe inserts are used to take pressure off plantar spurs (donut-shaped insert), and heel lifts can reduce stress on the Achilles tendon to relieve painful spurs at the back of the heel.
Similarly, sports running shoes with soft, cushioned soles can be helpful in reducing irritation of inflamed tissues from both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Infrequently, surgery is performed on
chronically inflamed spurs.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide pain relief and restore mobility. The type of procedure used is based
on examination and usually consists of releasing the excessive tightness of the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release. The procedure may also include removal of heel spurs.
The best way to prevent heel spurs is by wearing properly fitted footwear. Shoes should have a shock absorbing tread and soles and should be effective in supporting the heel and arch. Proper warm up
and stretching before embarking on any physical activity that will put pressure or impact on the area is highly recommended. Also, just as it?s important for your general health, if you can lose some
extra pounds, you will be more likely to avoid heel spurs. If you are starting to feel the onset of pain, it may not be heel spurs, but could be a tendonitis condition that could lead to heel spurs.