Heel spurs are a small calcification, which extends into the attachment of the connective tissues from the calcaneus (heel bone). This is easily observed on X-Ray and is very commonly misdiagnosed as
the cause of your pain. Why? Because the wrong type of scan is used and only one foot is examined. Do you know if you have a spur on the other heel, the heel without the pain? Probably? and the heel
spur would have been there long before you had the pain, and will still be there long after the pain is gone. Heel spurs are not the actual cause of heel pain, and are virtually always a secondary
observation or symptom caused by long term pulling on the heel bone.
The pain caused by heel spurs can be a sharp, stabbing pain when using the foot after a long period of rest. Sometimes it then reduces to a dull throb that can worsen when engaging in activities like
jogging or jumping. People sometimes describe the pain of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis as a pin sticking into the bottom of the foot when they first stand up in the morning, this pain later turns
into a bearable ache. The cause of the pain is generally not the heel spur itself, but the soft-tissue buildup associated with it. People often complain that the sharp pain returns after they stand
up following sitting for a prolonged period of time.
Heel spurs may or may not cause symptoms. Symptoms are usually related to the plantar fasciitis. You may experience significant pain. Your heel pain may be worse in the morning when you first wake up
or during certain activities.
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
There are various ways to treat heel spurs. The first is to rest and apply ice to the afflicted area. Shoe inserts and night splints can also treat plantar fasciitis, and in turn, heels spurs. Unless
you have stomach sensitivities, you may want to consider taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as naprosyn to lower the swelling. A physical therapist can recommend gentle
exercises and stretches to relax the tissue around the heel bone to relieve the tension. Even with these treatments, a stubborn heel spur may not go away. A physical therapist may decide to inject
cortisone into the area to decrease inflammation, but that can cause other problems such as plantar fascial rupture and fat pad atrophy. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is also an option, which
uses energy pulses to apply microtrauma around the heel spur. Surgery is also an option but is not suggested unless the heel spur lasts more than a year. To prevent heel spurs from returning, shoe
inserts can relieve the pressure on the plantar fascia. Also continue the recommended stretches and exercises.
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.
You can prevent heel spurs by wearing well-fitting shoes with shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters; choosing appropriate shoes for each physical activity; warming up and
doing stretching exercises before each activity; and pacing yourself during the activities. Avoid wearing shoes with excessive wear on the heels and soles. If you are overweight, losing weight may
also help prevent heel spurs.