A heel spur is a pointed bony outgrowth of the bone of the heel (the calcaneus bone). Heel spurs under the sole of the foot (plantar area) are associated with plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs and
plantar fasciitis can occur alone or be related to underlying diseases. Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are treated by measures that decrease the associated inflammation and avoid reinjury.
Causes of Heel Spur Syndrome are mostly due to your foot structure. Foot structure is due to hereditary for the most part, meaning it was the way you were when born. Other factors such as increase in
weight, injury, improper shoes, or different activities may change the way your foot functions as well. If one leg is longer or shorter than the other, this may make your foot function improperly and
be the cause of the heel spur syndrome. Improper shoes may be ones that are new or ones that are worn out and do not give good support. The higher priced shoes do not mean it's a better shoe.
Pronation is a term used to describe a foot which allows the arch to fall more than normal and allows for the fascia along the bottom of the foot to put a tighter pull or a different angle of pull on
the heel bone. Over time, this constant pull of the tight fascia can force the bone to enlarge and form a spur. It is not the heel spur that causes the pain directly. The spur may cause pressure
against a nearby nerve causing a neuritis, or a bursa causing a bursitis.
Bone spurs may cause sudden, severe pain when putting weight on the affected foot. Individuals may try to walk on their toes or ball of the foot to avoid painful pressure on the heel spur. This
compensation during walking or running can cause additional problems in the ankle, knee, hip, or back.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your heel spur or plantar
fasciitis they will investigate WHY you are likely to be predisposed to heel spurs and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays will show calcification or bone within
the plantar fascia or at its insertion into the calcaneus. This is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or
calcification. Pathology tests may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment of heel spurs is the same as treatment of plantar fasciitis. Because these problems are related, the treatment is the same. The first step in the treatment of a heel spur is short-term rest
and inflammation control. Here are the steps patients should take in order to cure the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Avoiding the activity that caused the symptoms is the first step
in treatment. For example, take a few day off jogging or prolonged standing/walking. Just resting usually helps to eliminate the most severe pain, and will allow the inflammation to begin to cool
down. Icing will help to diminish some of the symptoms and control the heel pain. Icing is especially helpful after a sudden flare up of symptoms. Exercises and stretches are designed to relax the
tissues that surround the heel bone. Some simple exercises, performed in the morning and evening, often help patients feel better quickly. Many patients will work with a physical therapist, or you
can try some simple activities on your own. If you need some help, meet with a therapist for a few sessions to learn a program you can continue on your own.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide relief of pain 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. Depending on the presence of excess bony build up, the procedure
may or may not include removal of heel spurs. Similar to other surgical interventions, there are various modifications and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel.
In 2002, researchers attempted to compare the effects of various running techniques on pronation and resulting injuries like stress fractures and heel spurs. They suggested that it is possible to
teach runners to stride in such a way as to minimize impact forces. One way is to lower running speed. Another is to take longer rest periods following a run.