heel spur

What causes heel spurs?

Heel spurs are brought upon by either the plantar fascia or the Achilles tendon pulling on the heel bone.  The bone reacts by creating a bone spur.  The bone spur is a result of the problem, not a cause of the problem.  For example, if you have plantar fasciitis, the bone spur is on the bottom of the heel, and is from the plantar fascia pulling away from the bone over time.  If you have Achilles tendinitis, the bone spur is behind the heel, and develops after the tight Achilles pulls on the bone over time.  There are different causes that may lead to a heel spur including poorly fitted shoes, excess weight or obesity, repetitive stress from running or jogging on hard surfaces, and arthritis.

What are the signs and symptoms of heel spurs?

Actually, heel spurs are NOT painful.  The pain that people have when they have heel spurs is either pain in the Achilles tendon or pain in the plantar fascia.  The spur is not the cause of the pain.  The pain that people feel when they have Achilles tendinitis is sharp, shooting or a tight, pulling feeling at the back of the heel, especially when they bend over or stand from a sitting position.  The pain that people feel when they have plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of the heel, described as sharp, shooting pain with the first step in the morning and after periods of rest.  

How are heel spurs treated?

Removal of the bone spur is not the treatment.  The underlying problem needs to be treated.  X-rays are helpful in determining whether or not a bone spur is present, or an other problem.  Sometimes the heel bone has a bone cyst or fracture that can cause pain.

Treating heel pain often requires taking time off from an activity and getting plenty of rest. Using cold compresses is another method to help alleviate the discomfort of heel pain.   Custom orthotics help prevent the progression of the bone spurs.

Stretching exercises can help reduce the pain of heel spurs as well decrease inflammation you may be experiencing. Some of these helpful exercises include calf stretches performed either against a wall or on steps, foot rolls with a golf or tennis ball, seated foot flexes, and towel grabs with your toes. Heel spur prevention can start by understanding the everyday stresses put on your feet and knowing when to let your feet rest. It’s also important to not let heel pain go uncared for. Once you notice something is off, take action instead of waiting to see if it goes away.

If you would like more information about heel spurs, call our office.  (562) 429-5300  We can provide you with a proper diagnosis and professional care.