A heel spur is a hooked bony growth protruding from the calcaneus or heel bone. It often occurs alongside plantar fasciitis, and as such the two conditions are often confused, however they are not
One frequent cause of heel spurs is an abnormal motion and mal-alignment of the foot called pronation. For the foot to function properly, a certain degree of pronation is required. This motion is
defined as an inward action of the foot, with dropping of the inside arch as one plants the heel and advances the weight distribution to the toes during walking. When foot pronation becomes extreme
from the foot turning in and dropping beyond the normal limit, a condition known as excessive pronation creates a mechanical problem in the foot. In some cases the sole or bottom of the foot flattens
and becomes unstable because of this excess pronation, especially during critical times of walking and athletic activities. The portion of the plantar fascia attached into the heel bone or calcaneous
begins to stretch and pull away from the heel bone.
More often than not, heel spurs have no signs or symptoms, and you don?t feel any pain. This is because heel spurs aren?t pointy or sharp pieces of bone, contrary to common belief. Heel spurs don?t
cut tissue every time movement occurs; they?re actually deposits of calcium on bone set in place by the body?s normal bone-forming mechanisms. This means they?re smooth and flat, just like all other
bones. Because there?s already tissue present at the site of a heel spur, sometimes that area and the surrounding tissue get inflamed, leading to a number of symptoms, such as chronic heel pain that
occurs when jogging or walking.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are diagnosed based on the history of pain and tenderness localized to these areas. They are specifically identified when there is point tenderness at the bottom of
the heel, which makes it difficult to walk barefoot on tile or wood floors. X-ray examination of the foot is used to identify the bony prominence (spur) of the heel bone (calcaneus).
Non Surgical Treatment
The heel pain associated with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis may not respond well to rest. If you walk after a night's sleep, the pain may feel worse as the plantar fascia suddenly elongates, which
stretches and pulls on the heel. The pain often decreases the more you walk. But you may feel a recurrence of pain after either prolonged rest or extensive walking. If you have heel pain that
persists for more than one month, consult a health care provider. He or she may recommend conservative treatments such as stretching exercises, shoe recommendations, taping or strapping to rest
stressed muscles and tendons, shoe inserts or orthotic devices, physical therapy. Heel pain may respond to treatment with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen
(Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). In many cases, a functional orthotic device can correct the causes of heel and arch pain such as biomechanical imbalances. In some cases, injection with a corticosteroid
may be done to relieve inflammation in the area.
In some cases, heel spurs are removed by surgery after an X-ray. While the surgery is typically effective, it?s a timely and expensive procedure. Even after surgery, heel spurs can re-form if the
patient continues the lifestyle that led to the problem. These reasons are why most people who develop painful heel spurs begin looking for natural remedies for joint and bone pain. Surgery isn?t
required to cure a heel spur. In fact, more than 90 percent of people get better with nonsurgical treatments. If nonsurgical methods fail to treat symptoms of heel spurs after 12 months, surgery may
be necessary to alleviate pain and restore mobility.
The best way to prevent heel spurs is by wearing properly fitted footwear. Shoes should have a shock absorbing tread and soles and should be effective in supporting the heel and arch. Proper warm up
and stretching before embarking on any physical activity that will put pressure or impact on the area is highly recommended. Also, just as it?s important for your general health, if you can lose some
extra pounds, you will be more likely to avoid heel spurs. If you are starting to feel the onset of pain, it may not be heel spurs, but could be a tendonitis condition that could lead to heel spurs.