Heel spurs are new bone that forms in response to stress to the heel. They serve to protect the bone against the development of microfractures. Spurs start out as cartilage and progress to solid
bone. They are present in about 50 percent of the population, yet not everyone has heel pain- that's the first clue that heel spurs don't always cause heel pain.
These bony protrusions are commonly found in association with a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament, which spans the arch of the foot,
becomes stressed, torn and inflamed. Misalignment and excessive movement of the plantar fascia ligament is most typically the result of an abnormal walking gait. The ligament is designed to stretch
with the bounce of each step you take, but if it stretches too much, the resulting small tears and inflammation can cause mild to extreme discomfort. At the same time, it is believed that heel spurs
are formed as the body attempts to provide some additional support to the over-stretched ligament. In other words, calcium builds up as a prop to the plantar fascia.
You'll typically first notice early heel spur pain under your heel in the morning or after resting. Your heel pain will be worse with the first steps and improves with activity as it warms up. When
you palpate the tender area you may feel a tender bony lump. As your plantar fasciitis deteriorates and your heel spur grows, the pain will be present more often.
Your doctor will discuss your medical history and will examine your foot and heel for any deformities and inflammation (swelling, redness, heat, pain). He/she will analyze your flexibility,
stability, and gait (the way you walk). Occasionally an x-ray or blood tests (to rule out diseases or infections) may be requested.
Non Surgical Treatment
In extreme cases, a doctor may recommend surgery for the removal of heel spurs. Fortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most cases can be resolved with a combination of icing, rest,
foot stretches and supporting the foot with an orthodic shoe insert specifically designed for this condition. We recommend that you continue on to our article on Heel Spur Treatment to discover the
best, speediest and most affordable methods of resolving this ailment without invasive medical procedures.
Heel spur surgery should only be considered after less invasive treatment methods have been explored and ruled insufficient. The traditional surgical approach to treating heel spurs requires a
scalpel cut to the bottom of the food which allows the surgeon to access the bone spur. Endoscopic plantar fasciotomies (EPF) involve one or two small incisions in the foot which allow the surgeon to
access and operate on the bone spur endoscopically. Taking a surgical approach to heel spur treatment is a topic to explore with a foot and ankle specialist.