Heel Spurs

A heel spur is a bone-like growth located between the heel bone and the arch of the foot. It’s important to note the growth is composed of deposited calcium, but bears a similar resemblance to a bone.

This diagnosis is rooted in extensive muscle and ligament strain, which stresses the heel bone. The spurs then develop as an attempt to protect the strained heel plate. Repetitive and strenuous exercises like running or jumping on hard surfaces is a common cause. Patients with arthritis, excess body weight, or bruised heels are at a higher risk for developing heel spurs.

Symptoms

Most cases begin in front of and underneath the heel, eventually spreading and affecting other mechanisms within the foot. These spurs develop over time, they will not appear suddenly. Many patients also report no symptoms, in which case this condition would be present as an incidental finding on an x-ray. If symptoms are present, one might experience one or more of the following:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling of the heel
  • Increase in temperature

Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial to the healing of an ankle sprain. An untreated sprain may lead to other diagnoses such as chronic ankle instability or a bone fracture. Delaying rehabilitation and treatment may give the patient a lower chance at completely healing the injury.

Treatment Options

Diagnosing a heel spur is often done after an X-ray or MRI. After establishing a diagnosis, your podiatrist will recommend one or more of the following options.

Nonsurgical:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy or stretching exercises will help to stretch the plantar fascia muscles, minimizing the tension on the underside of the foot
  • Orthotic shoe inserts

Surgical:

Heel spur surgery is typically advised when the pain becomes unmanageable, and consists of shaving down the excess bone. Often, a partial release of the plantar fascia will also be done as that is generally the root cause of the spur.