What is a Heel Spur?
A heel spur is calcium deposit located underneath the heel that causes small pieces of bone to protrude. Pain associated with heel spurs is often confused with another condition called plantar fasciitis—which refers to inflammation in plantar fascia ligament. A heel spur, on the other hand, is a piece of bone that forms on the heel bone itself. In the cases of heel pain the spur is an indication of a chronic pull of the fasica on the heel bone known as the calcaneus.
In most cases, heel spurs do not cause any symptoms unless on the back of the heel where the achilles inserts. Although there are cases where heel spurs are associated with intermittent or chronic pain. However, the heel spur itself is not necessarily the root of the pain. Instead, the pain is attributed to the inflammation or irritation of the plantar fascia ligament. Pain is usually worst in the morning when you first wake up, but it recedes as ligaments loosen. This is called post-static dyskinesia.
Heel Spur Causes
Heel spurs take months to years to develop and may go completely unnoticed. Heel spurs are most often a result of too much stress/strain or pressure on the ligaments in the foot. They can also be the result of repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. The same physical activities that cause plantar fasciitis can result in heel spurs.
Other significant factors that contribute to the development of heel spurs include:
- Mechanical defects that cause gait abnormalities
- Tight calf muscles that limit ankle flexibility
- Being overweight or obese
- Poorly shoe choice
- Activities that demand extended time on your feet
Heel spur synbdrome cannot be diagnosed through a physical exam; they can only be seen using an x-ray. In fact, many heel spurs are diagnosed based off images your doctor takes while looking for something else. Diagnostic Ultrasound is the best way to diagnose almost all heel pain. When heel pain persists for more than a month, you should contact Dr. Bregman. He or she may recommend the following non-invasive treatment methods:
- Various stretching exercises
- Shoe replacement recommendations
- Custom or medical grade OTC orthotics
- Shockwave treatment
- Physical therapy
Most cases of heel pain can be treated with conservative methods, but anti-inflammatory medications or injections may also be recommended. These medications not only reduce pain, but inflammation too. In some cases shockwave therapy using sound wave or acoustic wave technology may be advised along with some type of biologic regenerative product like Amnio or Stem Cells.