Heel spurs (calcaneal spurs) are protrusions (bumps) on the forward underside of the heel bone that can occur when the plantar tendon pulls excessively in the area where it attaches to the bone. The
condition is often associated with plantar fasciitis, although it can also occur on its own. Heel spurs typically are not painful unless they intrude into the soft tissue (plantar fascia), where they
can cause irritation that results in heel pain.
It is widely accepted now that the presence of this bony growth is not the cause of heel pain, but rather an effect of an underlying biomechanical foot problem where the soft tissue structures that
are attached to the heel bone are pulling excessively on that area. At some point down the track, heel pain may develop, but the bony heel spur is not the cause of the heel pain.
Most people think that a bone "spur" is sharp and produces pain by pressing on tissue, when in fact, these bony growths are usually smooth and flat. Although they rarely cause pain on their own, bone
spurs in the feet can lead to callus formation as tissue builds up to provide added cushion over the area of stress. Over time, wear and tear on joints may cause these spurs to compress neighboring
ligaments, tendons or nerves, thus injuring tissue and causing swelling, pain and tearing.
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
The key for the proper treatment of heel spurs is determining what is causing the excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. When the cause is over-pronation (flat feet), an orthotic with rearfoot
posting and longitudinal arch support is an effective device to reduce the over-pronation, and allow the condition to heal. Other common treatments include stretching exercises, losing weight,
wearing shoes that have a cushioned heel that absorbs shock, and elevating the heel with the use of a heel cradle, heel cup, or orthotic. Heel cradles and heel cups provide extra comfort and cushion
to the heel, and reduce the amount of shock and shear forces experienced from everyday activities.
Almost 90% of the people suffering from heel spur get better with nonsurgical treatments. However, if the conservative treatments do not help you and you still have pain even after 9 to 12 months,
your doctor may advise surgery for treating heel spur. The surgery helps in reducing the pain and improving your mobility. Some of the surgical techniques used by doctors are release of the plantar
fascia. Removal of a spur. Before the surgery, the doctor will go for some pre-surgical tests and exams. After the operation, you will need to follow some specific recommendations which may include
elevation of the foot, waiting time only after which you can put weight on the foot etc.