A heel spur is basically a bony growth of the calcaneus bone in the heel. These are usually linked with chronic localized inflammation at the insertion of the fascia in the area. Heel spurs can be situated at the rear part of the heel, beneath the heel or under the sole of the foot. The heel spurs that develop at the rear of the heel are usually linked with inflammation of the Achilles tendon that can lead to pain and tenderness at the back of the heel. This can be worsened when the individual pushes off the ball of the foot.
Causes of heel spurs
The heel spurs are typically caused by strain injury on the tissues and tendons that connect to the heel bone. Take note that this can occur after constant stress in sports.
Heel spurs can also be caused by inflammatory conditions including diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperstosis, reactive arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of heel spurs?
The heel spurs do not typically cause any symptoms. On the other hand, they can be linked with soreness of the tissues close to the spur such as the base of the heel or rear part of the heel where the ligament or Achilles tendon connects to. Take note that this will make it difficult for the individual to walk, stand or run, particularly when barefoot under solid surfaces.
With an X-ray or ultrasound imaging, the presence of heel spurs can be readily identified. Once heel spurs are suspected, a doctor must be consulted for proper assessment of the condition.
The heel spurs that develop beneath the sole of the foot are oftentimes linked with the swelling of the plantar fascia. Both plantar fasciitis and plantar heel spurs can lead to localized pain and tenderness that worsens when stepping down on the heel or pushing off with the ball of the foot.
Diagnosing heel spurs
The heel spurs are usually diagnosed with an X-ray or ultrasound to determine if there is bony growth on the heel bone. In case the spur is symptomatic, coming up with a diagnosis such as Achilles tendinosis, plantar fasciitis or systemic arthritis is required to properly manage the condition.
Treatment for heel spurs
The symptomatic heel spurs can be managed with measures that reduce the inflammation as well as avoid re-injury. In most cases, the treatment is applied to a connected condition such as Achilles tendinosis, plantar fasciitis or arthritis that caused the formation of the heel spurs.
The application of an ice pack can help reduce the pain and inflammation. Exercises and stretching can also treat and prevent plantar fasciitis. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or cortisone injections are given. You can learn more about these pain management measures by enrolling in a course on first aid today.
The use of orthotic devices can help control the excess movement that strains on the plantar fascia ligament or Achilles tendon. In some instances, orthotics can relieve the pressure from the heel spurs while heel lifts can minimize the stress on the Achilles tendon.