What are Heel Spurs?
Heel Spur is a small calcium deposit which causes bony protrusions at the bottom of the heel’s bone. Occurring most often over a period of a few months it is primarily a result of a pre-existing plantar fasciitis condition. Heel spurs typically form when the plantar fascia, a long, stretched ligament at the bottom of the foot, separates slightly from the heel bone. Calcium deposits then grow at this site of inflammation, forming a hook shaped spur. This is a common condition amongst jumping or running athletes.
While many heel spurs have no symptoms, others have been known to cause chronic pain. The heel may become inflamed during simple walks or runs, causing sharp pains that resemble a pins and needles sensation. Dull, aching sensations can also reverberate a day after engaging in strenuous physical activities. Unlike other foot related disorders, a heel spur condition does not improve with bed rest.
Heel Spur Causes
Heel spurs typically occur when long-term ligament and muscle strain wears out the soft tissues of the heel. Tears of the membrane that covers the heel’s bone can also be a cause. The heel has a tendency to become more vulnerable as we age. As an individual individual gets older, the pads of the heel have a tendency to wear down and lose their ability to provide shock absorption to the foot. As a result, calcium deposits can build up in the heel, forming the bony protrusions which we call “heel spurs”.
- Inflammation and swelling of the heel
- A small bone like protruding from under the heel
- Tenderness at the bottom of the heel that makes barefoot walking difficult
- Knife like pain in the heel area in the morning
- Dull aching in the heel area during the rest of the day
Treatment of Heel Spurs
Wearing well fitting, properly sized footwear can help prevent heel spurs and heel pain in general. Treatment may include custom orthotics, prescribed rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory pain relievers/injections, depending on the root cause of the heel pain. If the pain being experienced doesn’t respond to these non-surgical treatments, a podiatrist may suggest the use of surgery to help relieve nerve pressure, removal of the actual heel spur, or treatment of any inflamed tendons.
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