A heel spur is a painful condition that is caused by the accumulation of excessive calcium under the heel of the foot. The heel bone is made up of a large structure called the calcaneus, which is
connected to the bottom of the foot by durable connective tissue called fascia. If the layers of connective tissue become damaged or begin to degenerate due to wear and tear, plantar fasciitis may
develop. This causes calcification, which refers to the abnormal buildup of calcium on the heel bone. As the calcium continues to accumulate, a calcified protrusion called a spur may become visible
on an X-ray.
A heel spur is caused by chronic plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the calcaneus (heel bone) and extending along
the sole of the foot towards the toes.Your plantar fascia acts as a passive limitation to the over flattening of you arch. When your plantar fascia develops micro tears or becomes inflamed it is
known as plantar fasciitis. When plantar fasciitis healing is delayed or injury persists, your body repairs the weak and injured soft tissue with bone. Usually your injured fascia will be healed via
fibroblastic activity. They'll operate for at least six weeks. If your injury persists beyond this time, osteoblasts are recruited to the area. Osteoblasts form bone and the end result is bone (or
calcification) within the plantar fascia or at the calcaneal insertion. These bone formations are known as heel spurs. This scenario is most common in the traction type injury. The additional bone
growth is known as a heel spur or calcaneal spur.
Heel spurs can be quite painful, but can just as likely occur with no symptoms at all. Plantar fasciitis is a contributing condition to heel spurs. The cause of the pain is not the heel spur itself
but the soft-tissue injury associated with it. The feeling has been described as a knife or pin sticking into the bottom of your feet when you first stand up after sitting or laying down for a long
period of time - a pain that later turns into a dull ache.
A Diagnosis of Heel Spur Syndrome is a very common reason for having heel pain. Heel pain may be due to other types of conditions such as tendonitis, Haglund's Deformity, Stress Fracture, Tarsal
Tunnel Syndrome, or low back problems. A more common condition in children is Sever's Disease. The diagnosis is usually made with a combination of x-ray examination and symptoms.
Non Surgical Treatment
Over-the-counter or prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications can help temporarily, but can cause side effects with prolonged use - the most significant being gastrointestinal upset,
ulceration and bleeding. Deep tissue massage, taping and other physical therapy modalities can also be helpful. Arch support is highly recommended, either with shoe inserts or custom orthotics made
by podiatrists. If pain continues, a steroid injection at the site of pain may be recommended; however, many physicians do not like injecting around the heel. The side effects of steroids injected in
this area can be serious and worsen symptoms. Complications can include fat necrosis (death of fatty tissue) of the heel and rupture of the plantar fascia.
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.
In order to prevent heel spurs, it?s important that you pay attention to the physical activities you engage in. Running or jogging on hard surfaces, such as cement or blacktop, is typical for
competitive runners, but doing this for too long without breaks can lead to heel spurs and foot pain. Likewise, the shoes you wear can make a big difference in whether or not you develop heel spurs.
Have your shoes and feet checked regularly by our Dallas podiatrist to ensure that you are wearing the proper equipment for the activities. Regular checkups with a foot and ankle specialist can help
avoid the development of heel spurs.