The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and absorbs the most shock and pressure. A heel spur develops as an abnormal growth of the heel bone. Most commonly, calcium deposits form when the
plantar fascia pulls away from the heel area, causing a bony protrusion, or heel spur to develop. While bone spurs can develop in other locations such as the rear of the heel bone, this is the most
common location for development. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue located along the bottom surface of the foot that runs from the heel to the forefoot. Heel spurs can cause
extreme pain in the rearfoot, especially while standing or walking.
Bone spurs form in the feet in response to tight ligaments, to activities such as dancing and running that put stress on the feet, and to pressure from being overweight or from poorly fitting shoes.
For example, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) can become stressed or tight and pull on the heel, causing the ligament to become inflamed (plantar fasciitis). As the bone
tries to mend itself, a bone spur can form on the bottom of the heel (known as a ?heel spur?). Pressure at the back of the heel from frequently wearing shoes that are too tight can cause a bone spur
on the back of the heel. This is sometimes called a ?pump bump,? because it is often seen in women who wear high heels.
The pain caused by a calcaneal spur is not the result of the pressure of weight on the point of the spur, but results from inflammation around the tendons where they attach to the heel bone. You
might expect the pain to increase as you walk on the spur, but actually it decreases. The pain is most severe when you start to walk after a rest. The nerves and capillaries adapt themselves to the
situation as you walk. When you rest, the nerves and capillaries rest, also. Then, as you begin to move about again, extreme demands are made on the blood vessels and nerves, which will cause pain
until they again adjust to the spur. If excessive strain has been placed on the foot the day before, the pain may also be greater. A sudden strain, as might be produced by leaping or jumping, can
also increase the pain. The pain might be localized at first, but continued walking and standing will soon cause the entire heel to become tender and painful.
A thorough medical history and physical exam by a physician 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 visible.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest your foot. Reduce the amount of weight-bearing activities you participate in. Get off of your feet and elevate them. This will allow healing to begin. Apply ice to your foot. Applications of ice
packs that provide a comfortable cooling to the heel and arch (not a freezing cold) will help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Apply the ice to the heel and arch (not the toes). Make sure it
is comfortable, and leave on your foot for about 20 minutes, 3 times a day. If you have any medical problems such as diabetes, poor circulation, etc., discuss the use of ice with your doctor before
applying the ice. Active Wrap allows you to apply comfortable cold therapy to your foot without messy ice cubes. Use while on the ?go.? Do not walk with bare feet. Always protect your heels, arches,
and plantar fascia with good supportive shoes. Vionic Orthotic Flip Flops For Men and Women are designed for walking comfort with built in orthotic foot beds that help reduce foot pain from heel
spurs. Use in the house or on the beach.
Approximately 2% of people with painful heel spurs need surgery, meaning that 98 out of 100 people do well with the non-surgical treatments previously described. However, these treatments can
sometimes be rather long and drawn out, and may become considerably expensive. Surgery should be considered when conservative treatment is unable to control and prevent the pain. If the pain goes
away for a while, and continues to come back off and on, despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain really never goes away, but reaches a plateau, beyond which it does
not improve despite conservative treatments, surgery should be considered. If the pain requires three or more injections of "cortisone" into the heel within a twelve month period, surgery should be