A heel spur is a growth of bone the bottom of the heel where muscles and other soft tissue attach. Most commonly the plantar fascia (a broad, ligament-like structure extending from the heel bone to the base of the toes) becomes inflamed and causes pain. If this inflammation becomes chronic, a heel spur can grow. If heel pain is treated early, heel spurs can be prevented.
Signs and Symptoms of Heel Spurs
Early signs of heel pain are usually due to plantar fasciitis, (inflammation of the plantar fascia). The pain is greatest after resumming activty after rest (the plantar fascia shortens). Pain in the bottom of the foot on the first steps of the day is a classic sign of plantar fasciitis. A heel spur develops when this pain is ignored and the chronic inflammation increases the stress on the fascia. The result is a growth of bone on the bottom of the heel.
Treatment of Heel Spurs
Patients are treated conservatively by taping the foot, using anti-inflammatory medication, and perhaps cortisone injections. Specific exercises, night splints, and physical therapy are used to try to reduce the inflammation. A custom orthotic can control the abnormal stress and strain on the plantar fascia resulting in reduction of the symptoms. In some instances, conservative therapy fails, and surgery is indicated.
Always consult a physician for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis.