Heel spur (or osteophyte) is a term derived from the calcaneal spur. These small bone growths are caused by calcium deposits at the back or underside of the heel. Heel spurs are common in patients suffering from plantar fasciitis, especially if it has been left untreated for a long time. Approximately 70% of patients with plantar fasciitis have a heel spur. X-rays also reveal that 50% of patients with no symptoms of plantar fasciitis have a heel spur.
Heel Spur Causes
Heel spurs are caused by a number of factors. They can be caused by a strain injury of the tendons and tissues that attach to the heel bone, primarily inflammation of the plantar fascia. This is the main cause for this condition among athletes and active people. Heel spurs can also develop as a result of over-pronation, which is characterized by an excessive inward roll of the foot while walking or running. Individuals who over-pronate tend to push off the big toe and second toe, which reduces stability and distributes shock absorption abnormally within the foot and ankle. Inflammatory diseases, including reactive arthritis, can also cause the formation of heel spurs.
Heel Spur Symptoms
Although a heel spur can often be painless, it can be associated with chronic pain, normally attributed to plantar fasciitis. Patients typically experience this pain while walking, running and jogging. This pain is often described as feeling like a pin or knife sticking into the bottom of the foot. It is worst when getting up in the morning, or after sitting for a long period of time and attempting to stand up. It is reported that over 80% of patients with heel spur syndrome experience pain with first steps in the morning.
Heel Spur Treatments and Surgery
If you are experiencing heel pain and suspect a heel spur or plantar fasciitis, you should schedule an an appointment with Dr. Maislos for diagnosis and treatment options.
Conservative treatments for heel spur pain can include physical therapy, taping or strapping the foot, or the use of orthotics. Orthotics can help correct bio-mechanical imbalances that aggravate heel and arch pain. They provide comfort and cushion to the heel, lessening the amount of shock and shear forces experienced from daily activities. In the case of over-pronation, an orthotic with rearfoot posting and longitudinal arch support is recommended. Over the counter medications like Tylenol, Advil or Aleve may also assist in reducing pain. Similarly, a corticosteroid injection may be recommended to bring down inflammation and relieve pain.
It is reported that over 90 percent of people with heel spur get relief without surgery. However, if symptoms still persist after nine to twelve months, you may be advised to undergo surgery to alleviate the pain. The surgical procedure involves releasing the plantar fascia and removing the spur.
After surgery, you may need to wear a cast, surgical shoes, crutches, or a cane during recovery. As with any surgical procedure, it is important to follow all instructions closely to minimize the risk of post-surgical complications.
Dr. Gabriel Maislos is a board-certified Houston podiatrist who can diagnose and treat pain caused by heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, or other causes. He is also a skilled Houston podiatric surgeon, with expertise in these procedures. Schedule an appointment by calling us at (713) 541-3199 today.