While the term heel spur may create the impression of a sharp bony projection on the bottom of the heel that pokes the bottom of our foot causing our pain. Painful heel spurs are actually a result of
damage to the soft tissue at the bottom of the foot. While this may be confusing, we'll try to explain. Heel spurs is the more common name for a condition that is medically referred to as plantar
fascitiis or heel spur syndrome. Plantar fasciitis is a location oriented term that refers to the bottom of the foot(i.e. plantar warts). Fascia is a tough, inelastic band. 'itis'is a term used to
describe something that is inflamed (i.e. tendonitis, bursitis).
You are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis and heel spurs if you are Active. Sports that place excessive stress on the heel bone and attached tissue, especially if you have tight calf muscles
or a stiff ankle from a previous ankle sprain, which limits ankle movement eg. running, ballet dancing and aerobics. Overweight. Carrying around extra weight increases the strain and stress on your
plantar fascia. Pregnant. The weight gain and swelling associated with pregnancy can cause ligaments to become more relaxed, which can lead to mechanical problems and inflammation. On your feet.
Having a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces ie factory workers, teachers and waitresses. Flat Feet or High Foot Arches. Changes in the arch of your foot changes the shock
absorption ability and can stretch and strain the plantar fascia, which then has to absorb the additional force. Middle-Aged or Older. With ageing the arch of your foot may begin to sag - putting
extra stress on the plantar fascia. Wearing shoes with poor support. Weak Foot Arch Muscles. Muscle fatigue allows your plantar fascia to overstress and cause injury. Arthritis. Some types of
arthritis can cause inflammation in the tendons in the bottom of your foot, which may lead to plantar fasciitis. Diabetes. Although doctors don't know why, plantar fasciitis occurs more often in
people with diabetes.
The pain caused by a calcaneal spur is not the result of the pressure of weight on the point of the spur, but results from inflammation around the tendons where they attach to the heel bone. You
might expect the pain to increase as you walk on the spur, but actually it decreases. The pain is most severe when you start to walk after a rest. The nerves and capillaries adapt themselves to the
situation as you walk. When you rest, the nerves and capillaries rest, also. Then, as you begin to move about again, extreme demands are made on the blood vessels and nerves, which will cause pain
until they again adjust to the spur. If excessive strain has been placed on the foot the day before, the pain may also be greater. A sudden strain, as might be produced by leaping or jumping, can
also increase the pain. The pain might be localized at first, but continued walking and standing will soon cause the entire heel to become tender and painful.
A thorough medical history and physical exam by a physician 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 visible.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are many temporary solutions to resolve the pain associated with irritation to the plantar ligaments. Common recommendations are ice and anti-inflammatory medications or even cortisone
injections, however none of these solve the fundamental problem. To permanently resolve heel spurs you need to support and restrict the movement of the plantar ligaments. Flexible shoes will
aggravate and often contribute to heel spurs. We recommend a RIGID orthotic that extends from the metatarsal heads to the heel to resolve heel spurs.
Usually, heel spurs are curable with conservative treatment. If not, heel spurs are curable with surgery, although there is the possibility of them growing back. About 10% of those who continue to
see a physician for plantar fascitis have it for more than a year. If there is limited success after approximately one year of conservative treatment, patients are often advised to have
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can only be prevented by treating any underlying associated inflammatory disease.