A heel spur is a calcium deposit causing a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone. On an X-ray, a heel spur can extend forward by as much as a half-inch. Without visible X-ray evidence,
the condition is sometimes known as "heel spur syndrome." Although heel spurs are often painless, they can cause heel pain. They are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, a painful
inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot. Treatments for heel spurs and
associated conditions include exercise, custom-made orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections. If conservative treatments fail, surgery may be necessary.
Some causes of heel spurs include abnormal or lopsided walking, which places excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments and nerves Running, jogging or jumping, especially on hard surfaces. Poorly
fitted or badly worn shoes, especially those lacking appropriate arch support, excess weight and obesity.
You'll typically first notice early heel spur pain under your heel in the morning or after resting. Your heel pain will be worse with the first steps and improves with activity as it warms up. When
you palpate the tender area you may feel a tender bony lump. As your plantar fasciitis deteriorates and your heel spur grows, the pain will be present more often.
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
Elevation of the affected foot and leg at rest may diminish the pain. Applying gentle heat to the painful area may ease the pain by dilating local blood vessels. One also can protect the heel by
placing a foam rubber pad in the heel of the shoe. A pad about one-half inch thick will raise the heel, shift the weight of the body forward, and protect the irritated muscles attached to the heel
bone. The same effect can be achieved by using adhesive tape to turn the foot inward. Additional treatment may consist of a number of physical therapies, such as diathermy, ultrasound waves and
Sometimes bone spurs can be surgically removed or an operation to loosen the fascia, called a plantar fascia release can be performed. This surgery is about 80 percent effective in the small group of
individuals who do not have relief with conservative treatment, but symptoms may return if preventative measures (wearing proper footwear, shoe inserts, stretching, etc) are not maintained.