Heel spurs are new bone that forms in response to stress to the heel. They serve to protect the bone against the development of microfractures. Spurs start out as cartilage and progress to solid
bone. They are present in about 50 percent of the population, yet not everyone has heel pain- that's the first clue that heel spurs don't always cause heel pain.
One of the most common causes for the development of heel spurs is the wearing of shoes that are too tight. That?s why more women suffer from heel spurs more than men. Athletes who tend to stress
their feet a lot, people are overweight who have more pressure on their lower extremities and the elderly also tend to suffer more from heel spurs.
Heel spurs may or may not cause symptoms. Symptoms are usually related to the plantar fasciitis. You may experience significant pain. Your heel pain may be worse in the morning when you first wake up
or during certain activities.
The diagnosis of heel pain and heel spurs is made by a through history of the course of the condition and by physical exam. Weight bearing x-rays are useful in determining if a heel spur is present
and to rule out rare causes of heel pain such as a stress fracture of the heel bone, the presence of bone tumors or evidence of soft tissue damage caused by certain connective tissue disorders.
Non Surgical Treatment
Only in rare cases do the symptoms of heel spurs fail to be resolved through conservative treatment. Conservative treatment, although not 100% effective, is successful in most cases and should be
given ample time to work. In many cases, conservative methods should be utilized as long as a year depending on the rate at which your body responds to the treatment. When treatment is unsuccessful,
surgery may be considered. A common surgical procedure for this condition is plantar fascia release surgery. In this procedure, the tension of the plantar fascia ligament is released, lessening
tension in the heel and helping to prevent damage.
Surgery, which is a more radical treatment, can be a permanent correction to remove the spur itself. If your doctor believes that surgery is indicated, he will recommend an operation - but only after
establishing that less drastic methods of treatment are not successful.
There are heel spur prevention methods available in order to prevent the formation of a heel spur. First, proper footwear is imperative. Old shoes or those that do not fit properly fail to absorb
pressure and provide the necessary support. Shoes should provide ample cushioning through the heel and the ball of the foot, while also supporting the arch. Wearing an orthotic shoe insert is one of
the best ways to stretch the plantar fascia and prevent conditions such as heel spurs. Stretching the foot and calf is also helpful in preventing damage. Athletes in particular should make sure to
stretch prior to any physical activity. Stretching helps prevent heel spurs by making tissue stronger as well as more flexible. In addition, easing into a new or increasingly difficult routine should
be done to help avoid strain on the heel and surrounding tissue.