What Is Heel Spur?
Heel spurs are most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged men and women. As noted, most patients with this condition have other podiatry-related pain. This condition is a result of plantar fasciitis (when the fascia, a thick connective tissue that connects the heel bone and ball of the foot) becomes inflamed. Some 70% of plantar fasciitis patients have a bone spur.
Bone spurs are soft calcium deposits caused from tension in the plantar fascia. When found on an X-ray, they are used as evidence that a patient is suffering from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is typically caused from repetitive stress disorder. Walking, running, and dancing can cause this with time.Treatments for bone spurs and plantar fasciitis include:
- Stretching. Stretching the calf muscles several times daily is critical in providing tension relief for the plantar fascia. Some physicians may recommend using a step to stretch, while others may encourage yoga or pushing against a wall to stretch.
- Icing after activity. A frozen tennis ball can provide specific relief. Rolling the tennis ball under the arch of the foot after exercise can lessen pain in the area.
- Taping is also recommended at times. Several manufacturers of sports tape have plantar fascia specific lines.
- Orthotics are a good idea for those on their feet during the day. Orthotics can provide cushioning and relief.
- Cortisone shots in the fascia can provide temporary anti-inflammatory relief.
- Losing weight is perhaps the most effective method of improving heel and foot pain. Those who are overweight are far more likely to report these syndromes.
Causes for heel spurs (and related plantar fasciitis) include increase or change in activity, lack of arch support or poor shoe choice, injury, inflexibility in Achilles tendon and calf muscles, and spending hours daily on the feet. Also, arthritis from aging is often a common cause of bone loss and natural cushioning under the heel. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can also be to blame. Ultimately, in the United States, the most likely cause of this pain is being overweight. With more than 60% of the nation obese or morbidly obese, foot pain related to excessive weight is most likely. Dietary changes are most likely to cause long-term relief for bone spurs and plantar fasciitis.