A heel spur is foot condition where there is an outgrowth of bone on the heel. The spur is a calcium deposit that grows between the heel and the arch of the foot. It is also known as a calcaneal spur or osteophyte. It is frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the connective band of tissue that connects the heel and the toes. The spur starts in front of the heel and extends up to half an inch in length. They can be pointy and cause pain in the heel or arch of the foot, but not all heel pain is related to spurs and not all heel spurs are painful.
What Causes Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are caused by long term strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot. The stress on the heel bone causes the calcaneal overgrowth. Heel spurs develop over time and do not appear immediately after a stressful event. The condition usually occurs after repetitive stress and ignoring heel pain. Running or jumping on hard surfaces is one of the most common causes of heel spurs due to the amount of pressure that is applied on the heel.
Heel spurs also develop from wearing shoes that do not properly support the feet. Other causes of heel spurs are arthritis, excessive body weight, athletic activities, and old age.
Symptoms of Heel Spurs
Symptoms of heel spurs may include pain, inflammation, and swelling of the heel. The symptoms may spread to the arch of the foot and the affected area may be warm to the touch. A bony protrusion may be visible in some patients. Detecting heel spurs may be challenging because some cases may not show any symptoms. Some heel spurs can only be discovered through x-rays and other tests for different foot conditions.
The pain due to a heel spur may be sharp and feel like a knife in the heel when standing up in the morning. Throughout the rest of the day, the spur may cause a dull ache in the heel. The pain and tenderness of the heel can make it difficult to walk around barefoot.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Heel Spurs
Diagnosing heel spurs can be difficult because the symptoms of heel spurs is similar to other conditions that cause heel pain. For proper diagnosis, it should be done by a specialist such as a podiatrist. The heel spur may not be visible to the naked eye. X-rays may be necessary to diagnose an unknown cause of heel pain and inflammation.
The doctor will conduct a physical exam on the foot before ordering an x-ray. The physical test may include standing on one foot at a time and some walking around. He or she will look for signs of inflammation or redness. The doctor will also check for tenderness on the foot.
For severe cases of heel spurs, the doctor may recommend surgically removing the heel spur. Surgery can reduce the pain and increase mobility of the foot. The doctor will determine if you are a candidate for surgery after a series of tests including imaging tests using EKGs and blood flow tests to the foot.