A calcaneal spur (or heel spur) is a small osteophyte (bone spur) located on the calcaneus (heel bone). Calcaneal spurs are typically detected by a radiological examination (X-ray). When a foot bone
is exposed to constant stress, calcium deposits build up on the bottom of the heel bone. Generally, this has no effect on a person's daily life. However, repeated damage can cause these deposits to
pile up on each other,causing a spur-shaped deformity, called a calcaneal (or heel) spur. Obese people, flatfooted people, and women who constantly wear high-heeled shoes are most susceptible to heel
spurs. An inferior calcaneal spur is located on the inferior aspect of the calcaneus and is typically a response to plantar fasciitis over a period, but may also be associated with ankylosing
spondylitis (typically in children). A posterior calcaneal spur develops on the back of the heel at the insertion of the Achilles tendon. An inferior calcaneal spur consists of a calcification of the
calcaneus, which lies superior to the plantar fascia at the insertion of the plantar fascia. A posterior calcaneal spur is often large and palpable through the skin and may need to be removed as part
of the treatment of insertional Achilles tendonitis. These are also generally visible to the naked eye.
Each time we take a step forward, all of our body weight first rests on the heel of one foot. As our weight moves forward, the entire foot begins to bear the body's weight, and the foot flattens and
this places a great deal of pressure and strain on the plantar fascia. There is very little ?give? to the plantar fascia, so as it stretches only slightly, it pulls on its attachment to the heel. If
the foot is properly aligned this pull causes no problems. However, if the foot is ?pronated?(the foot rolls outward at the ankle, causing a break down of the inner side of the shoe), the arch falls
excessively, and this causes an abnormal stretching of the relatively inflexible plantar fascia, which in turn pulls abnormally hard on the heel. The same pathology occurs with ?supination? (the
rolling inward of the foot, causing a break down of the outer side of the shoe). Supinated feet are relatively inflexible; usually have a high arch, and a short or tight plantar fascia. Thus as
weight is transferred from the heel to the remainder of the foot, the tight plantar fascia hardly stretches at all, and pulls with great force on its attachment to the heel. In both cases, the
abnormal stress placed on the attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel usually causes pain, inflammation, and possibly swelling. If this process continues, the plantar fascia partially tears away
from the heel. The body will fill in this torn area with calcium; eventually it becomes bone, and a heel spur results.
If your body has created calcium build-ups in an effort to support your plantar fascia ligament, each time you step down with your foot, the heel spur is being driven into the soft, fatty tissue
which lines the bottom of your heel. Heel spur sufferers experience stabbing sensations because the hard protrusion is literally being jabbed into the heel pad. If left untreated, Plantar Fasciitis
and heel spurs can erode the fatty pad of the heel and cause permanent damage to the foot. Fortunately, most cases can be resolved without medications or surgeries.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your heel spur or plantar
fasciitis they will investigate WHY you are likely to be predisposed to heel spurs and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays will show calcification or bone within
the plantar fascia or at its insertion into the calcaneus. This is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or
calcification. Pathology tests may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
Podiatric Care for heel spur syndrome may involve keeping the fascia stretched out by performing exercises. Your doctor may also suggest for you to be seen by a physical therapist. You probably will
be advised on the best shoes to wear or some inserts for your shoes. Your podiatrist may suggest that a custom made orthotic be made to allow your foot to function in the most ideal way especially if
you have excessive pronation. A heel lift may be used if you have a leg length discrepancy. Medical treatment may include anti-inflammatory oral medications or an injection of medication and local
anesthetic to reduce the swelling and decrease pain. If a bursitis is present the medication may greatly improve the symptoms. Your podiatric physician may also recommend a surgical procedure to
actually fix the structural problem of your foot.
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.
In order to prevent heel spurs, it?s important that you pay attention to the physical activities you engage in. Running or jogging on hard surfaces, such as cement or blacktop, is typical for
competitive runners, but doing this for too long without breaks can lead to heel spurs and foot pain. Likewise, the shoes you wear can make a big difference in whether or not you develop heel spurs.
Have your shoes and feet checked regularly by our Dallas podiatrist to ensure that you are wearing the proper equipment for the activities. Regular checkups with a foot and ankle specialist can help
avoid the development of heel spurs.