Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are abnormal bony growths that develop at the back or under the heel as a result of ongoing soft tissue inflammation or irritation. The inflammation, more so than the heel spur, can cause significant pain. Fortunately, symptoms can be eased with non-surgical treatments for the vast majority of people.

Causes

Heel spurs develop in some people that have a condition called plantar fasciitis, inflammation ofthe plantar fascia. Heel spurs form when the plantar fascia slightly separates from the calcaneus. An abnormal bone growth, a hook-like spur, forms from calcium deposits that grow at the site of inflammation.

However, spurs often form without symptoms, inflammation or injury.

Symptoms

Heel spurs are very common, and 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.

Treatment

The majority of heel spurs are treated without surgery. Non-surgical treatments can relieve pain, but it may take some time for symptoms to resolve. Rest, icing, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or prescription medications can help ease symptoms. Cortisone medication injections may also be used.

You may be instructed to perform stretching exercises to help relax the tissues in the heel. Your podiatrist may recommend custom orthotics or shoe inserts to position and cushion your heel. Night splints can help position the heel and arch of the foot while you sleep.

Some doctors may recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ES WT). This treatment uses energy pulses to start the repair process in the heel tissues. ESW T is recommend when other non-surgical treatments have failed.

Surgery

Surgery is used a very small percentage of the time. It is usually considered after trying non-surgical treatments for at least a year. Plantar fascia release surgery is used to relax the plantar fascia. This surgery is commonly paired with tarsal tunnel release surgery. Surgery is successful for the majority of people.

Prevention

You can help prevent heel spur symptoms from coming back by wearing the proper shoes. Customized orthotics and insoles can help relieve pressure. It is important to perform your exercises to help keep your foot stretched and relaxed.