Heel spurs are tiny protruding calcium deposits that can develop near the base of your heel bone. They can be caused by repetitive activities, such as dancing or running, or they can form in
association with plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the ligament (plantar fascia) on the bottom of your foot. When the plantar fascia is tight and pulls on your heel bone, the bone
releases calcium to try to heal itself. The excess deposits of calcium can sometimes form heel spurs.
Athletes who participate in sports that involve a significant amount of jumping and running on hard surfaces are most likely to suffer from heel spurs. Some other risk factors include poor form while
walking which can lead to undue stress on the heel and its nerves and ligaments. Shoes that are not properly fitted for the wearer?s feet. Poor arch support in footwear. Being overweight. Occupations
that require a lot of standing or walking. Reduced flexibility and the thinning of the fat pad along the bottom of the heel, both of which are a typical depreciation that comes with aging.
Most heel spurs cause no symptoms and may go undetected for years. If they cause no pain or discomfort, they require no treatment. Occasionally, a bone spur will break off from the larger bone,
becoming a ?loose body?, floating in a joint or embedding itself in the lining of the joint. This can cause pain and intermittent locking of the joint. In the case of heel spurs, sharp pain and
discomfort is felt on the bottom of the foot or heel.
Because the diagnosis of heel spurs can be confused with tarsal tunnel syndrome (as described earlier), most surgeons advocate performing a tarsal tunnel release (or at least a partial tarsal tunnel
release) along with the plantar fascia release. This surgery is about 80percent successful in relieving pain in the small group of patients who do not improve with conservative treatments.
Non Surgical Treatment
Only in rare cases do the symptoms of heel spurs fail to be resolved through conservative treatment. Conservative treatment, although not 100% effective, is successful in most cases and should be
given ample time to work. In many cases, conservative methods should be utilized as long as a year depending on the rate at which your body responds to the treatment. When treatment is unsuccessful,
surgery may be considered. A common surgical procedure for this condition is plantar fascia release surgery. In this procedure, the tension of the plantar fascia ligament is released, lessening
tension in the heel and helping to prevent damage.
In a small number of cases (usually less than 5 percent), patients may not experience relief after trying the recommendations listed above. It is important that conservative treatments (such as those
listed above) be performed for AT LEAST a year before considering surgery. Time is important in curing the pain from heel spurs, and insufficient treatment before surgery may subject you to potential
complications from the procedure. If these treatments fail, your doctor may consider an operation to loosen the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can only be prevented by treating any underlying associated inflammatory disease.