A heel spur is an abnormal growth on the heel bone that forms in the shape of a hook. Heel spurs are often associated with a condition called plantar fasciitis, an irritation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot; however, heel spurs can also form when no other symptoms of plantar fasciitis are present.
Causes of heel spurs
A heel spur is caused by calcium deposits that develop when the plantar fascia (strip of fibrous tissue on the bottom of your foot) begins to pull away from the heel. Heel spurs are typically associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the plantar fascia becomes inflamed.
In most cases, the inflamed tissue is what causes the pain. However, individuals who have a heel spur without any symptoms of plantar fasciitis may not experience pain while others may experience excruciating pain when standing or walking due to the heel spur itself.
Individuals who have flat feet or unusually high arches are most likely to develop a heel spur due to the structure of their feet. Women are also more susceptible to the condition since they frequently wear heels and other high-arched shoes.
Heel spur symptoms
Symptoms of a heel spur include:
- A bony hook-shaped protrusion that develops on your heel.
- Pain in the back of the foot that is typically worse in the morning.
- Severe pain when standing or walking.
- Tightness in the strip of tissue on the bottom of your foot.
Treatment of a Heel Spur
Heel spurs can typically be treated by:
- Applying ice or a cold pack to reduce inflammation.
- Resting and staying off your feet.
- Stretching and doing light exercises to relax the tissues around your heel bone.
- Taking anti-inflammatory medication.
- Wearing night splints to stretch the arch while sleeping.
- Wearing shoe inserts to provide proper arch support.
It may take a while for the pain and inflammation to subside, but if symptoms persist after a few weeks, consult your physician.
Since heel spurs form due to the plantar fascia stretching and pulling away from the heel, it is important to determine the root cause of this stretching so pain and inflammation can be prevented in the future. For instance, if one has flat feet that causes the plantar fascia to extend too far, arch supports can help prevent the condition from reoccurring. To prevent a recurrence, it is important to wear shoes that fit properly, use shoe inserts to relieve pressure, and continue stretching every day to relieve tightness.