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What are heel spurs?

Heel spurs are abnormal growths that develop from the heel bone(calcaneus:  the largest bone in the foot) when the plantar fascia (thick fibrous tissue running from the heel of the foot to the ball of the foot helping support the foot arch) pulls away from the heel area. 

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Over time a small calcium deposit will build on the heel from the tension of the plantar fascia resulting in a heel spur.  Heel spurs can be extremely painful when walking or standing.

What causes heel spurs?

Heel spurs develop from over stretching the plantar fascia.  This may occur from a number of causes.  Basically any activity that can causes flattening of the foot arch will stretch the plantar fascia.  Excessive weight due to obesity can eventually cause the tissue of the plantar fascia to stretch from the constant pressure exerted, when standing or walking, upon the soles of the feet.  Constant stress over a period of  time, such as running with improper shoes can also damage the plantar fascia.  Proper shoes that help support the arch of the foot can lower your risk for developing heel spurs.

Heel Spur Symptoms.

The most obvious symptom for heel spurs is a sharp pain on the bottom of the heel.  It’s usually the painfullest in the morning or when you first put your weight on the effected foot or after long periods of rest.  The pain may worsen with running or walking.  The pain one experiences is not from the presence of a spur but from tension on the plantar fascia as it tears from the heel bone.

Heel Spur Diagnosis.

Examination of the foot and a historical investigation of  your lifestyle and symptoms may lead to a diagnosis of heel spurs.  X-rays can also be helpful in determining the presence of a heel spur or if another condition is causing the pain such as tumors or fractures of the heel.

Treatment for Heel Spurs

Treatment involves restoring the arch of the foot relieving the tension on the plantar fascia. Often your podiatrist or physician can examine the causes of your particular case.  If your overweight, they may offer you weight loss solutions along with treatment for your foot.  Specific treatments may include:

  • Taping of the foot with orthopedic tape to restore and support the arch.
  • Anti-inflammatory injections (cortisone) to lower inflammation and reduce pain.
  • Shoe inserts to restore the arch of the foot and allow continuation of routine activities.
  • Splints to wear during sleeping (night splints) to keep the foot relaxed at night.
  • Exercises and stretching designed to relax and relieve the tension to the ligaments and tendons that surround the heel bone and calf muscle.

Relief from heel spurs is not immediate and can often take 3 months to a year to fully recover.

Plantar Fascia ligament is a tough connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot that helps support the foot arch.

An orthopedic night splint should be worn while sleeping to relieve and restore plantar fascia ligament.

Also, shoe insert should be placed inside shoe to relieve pain and symptoms of heel spurs.

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