The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and absorbs the most amount of shock and pressure. A heel spur develops as an abnormal growth of the heel bone. Calcium deposits form when the plantar
fascia pulls away from the heel area, causing a bony protrusion, or heel spur to develop. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue located along the bottom surface of the foot that runs
from the heel to the forefoot. Heel spurs can cause extreme pain in the rearfoot, especially while standing or walking.
When the Plantar Fascia is allowed to rest during sleep or long periods of inactivity, the fascia tightens and shortens. When you first stand up after resting, the fascia is forced to stretch very
quickly causing micro-tears in the tissue. This is why the first steps in the morning are so exquisitely painful. Heel spurs are more likely to happen if you suffer from over-pronation (walking with
a rolling gait) you stand or walk on rigid surfaces for long periods, you are above ideal weight or during pregnancy, you have stiff muscles in your calves.
Symptoms of heel spur syndrome often include pain early in the morning or after rest, as you take the first few steps. It may also include severe pain after standing or walking long hours, especially
on hard cement floors. Usually more pain exist while wearing a very flat soled shoe. A higher heel may actually relieve the pain as an arch is created. The pain is usually sharp, but can also be a
dull ache. The pain may only be at the bottom of the heel, or may also travel along the arch of the foot.
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
Acupuncture and acupressure can used to address the pain of heel spurs, in addition to using friction massage to help break up scar tissue and delay the onset of bony formations. Physical therapy may
help relieve pain and improve movement. The Feldenkrais method could be especially helpful for retraining some of the compensation movements caused by the pain from the spur. Guided imagery or a
light massage on the foot may help to relieve some of the pain. Other treatments include low-gear cycling, and pool running. Some chiropractors approve of moderate use of aspirin or ibuprofen, or
other appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs. Chiropractic manipulation is not recommended, although chiropractors may offer custom-fitted shoe orthotics and other allopathic-type treatments.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide relief of pain and restore mobility. The type of procedure used is
based on examination and usually consists of releasing the excessive tightness of the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release. Depending on the presence of excess bony build up, the procedure
may or may not include removal of heel spurs. Similar to other surgical interventions, there are various modifications and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel.
Heel Spur symptoms can be prevented from returning by wearing proper shoes and using customized orthotics and insoles to relieve pressure. It is important to perform your exercises to help keep your
foot stretched and relaxed.