Heel spurs (calcaneal spurs) are protrusions (bumps) on the forward underside of the heel bone that can occur when the plantar tendon pulls excessively in the area where it attaches to the bone. The
condition is often associated with plantar fasciitis, although it can also occur on its own. Heel spurs typically are not painful unless they intrude into the soft tissue (plantar fascia), where they
can cause irritation that results in heel pain.
Bone spurs form in the feet in response to tight ligaments, to activities such as dancing and running that put stress on the feet, and to pressure from being overweight or from poorly fitting shoes.
For example, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) can become stressed or tight and pull on the heel, causing the ligament to become inflamed (plantar fasciitis). As the bone
tries to mend itself, a bone spur can form on the bottom of the heel (known as a ?heel spur?). Pressure at the back of the heel from frequently wearing shoes that are too tight can cause a bone spur
on the back of the heel. This is sometimes called a ?pump bump,? because it is often seen in women who wear high heels.
Heel spurs result in a jabbing or aching sensation on or under the heel bone. The pain is often worst when you first arise in the morning and get to your feet. You may also experience pain when
standing up after prolonged periods of sitting, such as work sessions at a desk or car rides. The discomfort may lessen after you spend several minutes walking, only to return later. Heel spurs can
cause intermittent or chronic pain.
A thorough history and physical exam is always necessary for the proper diagnosis of heel spurs and other foot conditions. X rays of the heel area are helpful, as excess bone production will be
Non Surgical Treatment
The most important part of treatment is to rest. Do not undertake activities which hurt the foot or aggravate symptoms as will only cause painful symptoms to persist. Apply an ice pack regularly for
10 minutes at a time every hour initially to reduce pain and inflammation of the surrounding tissues. As symptoms subside frequency of application can reduce to 2 or 3 times per day. Exercises and
stretches to keep the foot and ankle strong and mobile are important as long as pain allows. Stretching the plantar fascia is important, especially if symptoms are worse in the morning. A plantar
fasciitis night splint is excellent for stretching and preventing the plantar fascia tightening up over night. Anti-Inflammatory medicine (e.g. ibuprofen) may be prescribed by a doctor but always
check with a medical professional first as taking some medications such as ibuprofen should not be done if the patient has asthma. Shoe inserts can help to take the pressure off of the spur and
reduce pain. If these treatments do not significantly ease the symptoms then surgery may be an option.
Surgery, which is a more radical treatment, can be a permanent correction to remove the spur itself. If your doctor believes that surgery is indicated, he will recommend an operation - but only after
establishing that less drastic methods of treatment are not successful.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can only be prevented by treating any underlying associated inflammatory disease.