Heel spurs are one of the most common foot problems. Most of the time heel spurs do not cause pain, so most people are unaware that they have heel spurs.
Heel spur is calcium deposit which causes a bony build up on the bottom of the heel bone. It usually develops closer to the back of the heel near the Achilles tendon or further forward to the foot, under the arch of the foot. They are diagnosed through an X-ray.
Heel spurs are painless, however, sometimes they may cause heel pain. They are associated with plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament at the bottom of the foot.
What causes heel spurs?
As mentioned earlier it is caused due to calcium deposits build up over time. This build up of calcium is related to long-term muscle and ligament strain, stretching the soft tissues in the heel and wearing them out.
Furthermore, underlying chronic diseases such as arthritis, reactive arthritis, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis and ankylosing spondylitis may be a cause of heel spurs. Other issues which may cause heel spurs include bruising of the heel, walking gait issues, poorly fitted footwear and excess body weight. Patients that suffer with plantar fasciitis often tend to develop heel spurs over time.
Most heel spurs are asymptomatic and are only discovered through an x-ray. If symptoms are present it will include inflammation, pain, and swelling of the front of the heel. Some patients feel that their foot is warm to touch. If the heel spur has been developing for a long period, the patient may be able to feel a small bony protrusion.
If you think you may have a heel spur, you should make an appointment to see a podiatrist, as it is difficult to diagnose a heel spur on your own. Heel spurs can only be diagnosed by an X-ray ordered by your podiatrist or GP.
After your heel spur is diagnosed, there are many treatments your podiatrist may recommend. At-home treatment options include over the counter pain medication, rest and cold compresses. Your podiatrist may prescribe orthotic shoe inserts, physical therapy and injections of anti-inflammatory medication referral. In severe cases your podiatrist may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon for surgery.