When the body is under stress or constent inflammation it will deposit calcium to our bones. This added 'bone growth' is designed to relieve the added stress/pressure to our connective tissue. In the
case of a heel spur, added calcium to the heel bone (calcaneus). It usually forms at the bottom underside of the heel bone where the plantar fascia attaches. This calcium deposit forms over a period
of many months. Heel bones can very in shape and size from person to person. An irregular shape heel (calcaneus) can cause the tissue to twist (plantar ligament and Achilles tendon) or a smaller heel
bone will put additional stress on tendons and ligaments.
A heel spur is caused by chronic plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the calcaneus (heel bone) and extending along
the sole of the foot towards the toes.Your plantar fascia acts as a passive limitation to the over flattening of you arch. When your plantar fascia develops micro tears or becomes inflamed it is
known as plantar fasciitis. When plantar fasciitis healing is delayed or injury persists, your body repairs the weak and injured soft tissue with bone. Usually your injured fascia will be healed via
fibroblastic activity. They'll operate for at least six weeks. If your injury persists beyond this time, osteoblasts are recruited to the area. Osteoblasts form bone and the end result is bone (or
calcification) within the plantar fascia or at the calcaneal insertion. These bone formations are known as heel spurs. This scenario is most common in the traction type injury. The additional bone
growth is known as a heel spur or calcaneal spur.
Symptoms may be similar to those of plantar fasciitis and include pain and tenderness at the base of the heel, pain on weight bearing and in severe cases difficulty walking. The main diagnosis of a
heel spur is made by X-ray where a bony growth on the heel can be seen. A heel spur can occur without any symptoms at all and the athlete would never know they have the bony growth on the heel.
Likewise, Plantar fasciitis can occur without the bone growth present.
A thorough history and physical exam is always necessary for the proper diagnosis of heel spurs and other foot conditions. X rays of the heel area are helpful, as excess bone production will be
Non Surgical Treatment
By reducing excessive motion and controlling and supporting the foot during physical activities an orthotic can help to limit how far the plantar fascia is pulled or torn away from the heel. A Heel
Spur pad can be offered- which is a pad designed to take pressure off the spur. If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.
When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical treatment may be necessary. Heel surgery can provide relief of pain and restore mobility. The type of procedure used is
based on examination and usually consists of releasing the excessive tightness of the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release. Depending on the presence of excess bony build up, the procedure
may or may not include removal of heel spurs. Similar to other surgical interventions, there are various modifications and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel.
If you have not yet developed this condition, you can take steps to protect yourself from it. Most importantly, make it a rule to wear properly fitted footwear. Avoid shoes that have become worn down
in the heel, and don't choose shoes that cause you to walk in an abnormal fashion. Maintaining a healthy weight will ensure that undue pressure isn't being put on the ligaments, tendons and bones of
your feet. If your job requires a great deal of time on your feet, or if you exercise regularly, be sure to balance periods of activity with periods of rest for your feet.