1. What is it?
A heel spur is a bony growth or calcification that begins at the bottom of the heel and extends forward towards the toes.
2. What are the causes/predisposing factors of injury?
People with chronic plantar fasciitis seem to be more prone to heel spurs. A tight plantar fascia, heel cord or calve muscles may promote the formation of a heel spur.
It is thought that the tension on the heel (calcaneus bone) causes the body to deposit calcium or bone in an attempt to reinforce itself.
3. What are the symptoms?
Most heel spurs are asymptomatic and are found incidentally on x-rays. Those that are symptomatic present with localized heel pain during weight bearing or when pressure is applied to the area.
It is interesting to note that most authorities feel that a heel spur itself does not produce pain, but it is the inflammation at the heel spur-plantar fascia junction that causes discomfort.
4. What can be done to prevent or treat this injury?
Prevention is aimed at reducing stress to the area by stretching the plantar fascia, heel cord and calve muscles. If there are biomechanical foot faults such as a flattened arch and over pronation, shoe inserts or orthotics may be of benefit.
Treatment may consist of any of the following, alone or in combination: ultrasound, ice, anti inflammatories, relative rest, friction massage, plantar strapping, night splints, heel pads with a doughnut, orthotics, shock wave therapy, and laser therapy and as a last resort- surgery.