If you suffer from heel pain, you know that it affects every step you take. And by the time you take off your shoes in the evening, your feet are really suffering. The pain you?re feeling could be
caused by heel bone spurs. Heel bone spurs are common in people who walk, stand or run on hard surfaces such as concrete or tile floors-and that?s most of us! This kind of frequent, intense impact on
hard surfaces overstretches and can even tear the ligaments on the bottom of the foot, a condition known as plantar fasciitis. In extreme cases, these ligaments begin to pull away from the bone. Heel
bone spurs are created because of this injury to the foot. They are not painful by themselves, but they do irritate surrounding tissues, which causes heel pain.
Causes of Heel Spur Syndrome are mostly due to your foot structure. Foot structure is due to hereditary for the most part, meaning it was the way you were when born. Other factors such as increase in
weight, injury, improper shoes, or different activities may change the way your foot functions as well. If one leg is longer or shorter than the other, this may make your foot function improperly and
be the cause of the heel spur syndrome. Improper shoes may be ones that are new or ones that are worn out and do not give good support. The higher priced shoes do not mean it's a better shoe.
Pronation is a term used to describe a foot which allows the arch to fall more than normal and allows for the fascia along the bottom of the foot to put a tighter pull or a different angle of pull on
the heel bone. Over time, this constant pull of the tight fascia can force the bone to enlarge and form a spur. It is not the heel spur that causes the pain directly. The spur may cause pressure
against a nearby nerve causing a neuritis, or a bursa causing a bursitis.
Pain and discomfort associated with heel spurs does not occur from the spur itself. The bone growth itself has no feeling. However, as you move, this growth digs into sensitive nerves and tissue
along the heel of the foot, resulting in severe pain. Pain can also be generated when pushing off with the toes while walking. Swelling along the heel is also common.
Sharp pain localized to the heel may be all a doctor needs to understand in order to diagnose the presence of heel spurs. However, you may also be sent to a radiologist for X-rays to confirm the
presence of heel spurs.
Non Surgical Treatment
The majority of heel spurs are treated with non-surgical interventions. These can relieve pain, but may take from about 3 months to up to a year for symptoms to resolve. Rest, icing, and
over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or prescription medications can help ease symptoms. Cortisone injections may also be used. Physical therapists may instruct you to perform stretching exercises to
help relax the tissues in the heel. Your doctor may recommend custom orthotics or shoe inserts to position and cushion your heel. Night splints can help position the heel and arch of the foot while
you sleep. Some doctors may recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT). This treatment uses energy pulses to start the repair process in the heel tissues. ESWT is recommend when other
non-surgical treatments have failed.
Approximately 2% of people with painful heel spurs need surgery, meaning that 98 out of 100 people do well with the non-surgical treatments previously described. However, these treatments can
sometimes be rather long and drawn out, and may become considerably expensive. Surgery should be considered when conservative treatment is unable to control and prevent the pain. If the pain goes
away for a while, and continues to come back off and on, despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain really never goes away, but reaches a plateau, beyond which it does
not improve despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain requires three or more injections of "cortisone" into the heel within a twelve month period, surgery should be
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.