There are approximately 75 different causes of heel pain. At least 80% of all heel pain is due to heel spurs. A heel spur contains calcium, but cannot truly be called a calcium deposit. Bone spurs,
whether they are on the heel or on any other bone of the body, are true bone -- they are true enlargements of the bone and may be sharp and pointed, or round and knobby. Since bone spurs are true
bone, they contain calcium just like regular bones, but are not pure calcium deposits.
One of the most common causes for the development of heel spurs is the wearing of shoes that are too tight. That?s why more women suffer from heel spurs more than men. Athletes who tend to stress
their feet a lot, people are overweight who have more pressure on their lower extremities and the elderly also tend to suffer more from heel spurs.
Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms. You might not realize you have bone spurs until an X-ray for another condition reveals the growths. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and
loss of motion in your joints.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your heel spur or plantar
fasciitis they will investigate WHY you are likely to be predisposed to heel spurs and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays will show calcification or bone within
the plantar fascia or at its insertion into the calcaneus. This is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or
calcification. Pathology tests may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel spurs and plantar fascitis are usually controlled with conservative treatment. Early intervention includes stretching the calf muscles while avoiding re-injuring the plantar fascia. Decreasing
or changing activities, losing excess weight, and improving the proper fitting of shoes are all important measures to decrease this common source of foot pain. Modification of footwear includes shoes
with a raised heel and better arch support. Shoe orthotics recommended by a healthcare professional are often very helpful in conjunction with exercises to increase strength of the foot muscles and
arch. The orthotic prevents excess pronation and lengthening of the plantar fascia and continued tearing of this structure. To aid in this reduction of inflammation, applying ice for 10-15 minutes
after activities and use of anti-inflammatory medication can be helpful. Physical therapy can be beneficial with the use of heat modalities, such as ultrasound that creates a deep heat and reduces
inflammation. If the pain caused by inflammation is constant, keeping the foot raised above the heart and/or compressed by wrapping with an ace bandage will help. Corticosteroid injections are also
frequently used to reduce pain and inflammation. Taping can help speed the healing process by protecting the fascia from reinjury, especially during stretching and walking.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide pain relief and restore mobility. The type of procedure used is based
on examination and usually consists of releasing the excessive tightness of the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release. The procedure may also include removal of heel spurs.
o help prevent heel and bone spurs, wear properly designed and fitted shoes or boots that provide sufficient room in the toe box so as not to compress the toes. They should also provide cushioning in
appropriate areas to minimize the possibility of the irritation and inflammation that can lead to bone spurs in the feet. If needed, use inserts that provide arch support and a slight heel lift to
help ensure that not too much stress is placed on the plantar fascia. This helps to reduce the possibility of inflammation and overstress. Wearing padded socks can also help by reducing trauma.
Peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that wearing clinically-tested padded socks can help protect against injuries to the skin/soft tissue of the foot due to the effects of impact, pressure
and shear forces. Also consider getting your gait analyzed by a foot health professional for appropriate orthotics. If you have heel pain, toe pain or top-of-the-foot pain, see your doctor or foot
specialist to ensure that a spur has not developed.