Do you feel severe heel pain when walking or standing? Then you may have what is known as a heel spur.
A heel spur is a calcium deposit causing a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone. On an X-ray, a heel spur can extend forward by as much as a half-inch. Without visible X-ray evidence, the condition is sometimes known as “heel spur syndrome.” Although heel spurs are often painless, they can also cause significant pain. It may take a long time for the inflammation to heal completely.
Heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.
When stress is put on the plantar fascia ligament, it does not cause only plantar fasciitis, but causes a heel spur where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. Generally, a calcaneal spur develops when proper care is not given to the foot and heels. Risk factors include overuse, such as from long periods of standing, an increase in exercise, and obesity. It is also associated with inward rolling of the foot, a tight Achilles tendon, and a sedentary lifestyle.
When plantar fasciitis occurs, the pain is typically sharp and usually unilateral (70% of cases). Bearing weight on the heel after long periods of rest worsens heel pain in patients. Patients with plantar fasciitis often report their symptoms are most intense during their first steps after getting out of bed or after prolonged periods of sitting. Symptoms typically improve with continued walking. Rare, but reported symptoms include numbness, tingling, swelling, or radiating pain.
If the plantar fascia is overused in the setting of plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia can rupture. Typical signs and symptoms of plantar fascia rupture include a clicking or snapping sound, significant local swelling, and acute pain in the bottom of the foot.
Prevention and protection
Making a few lifestyle changes may help you avoid plantar fasciitis.
Wear supportive shoes with good arch support, and replace your athletic footwear regularly.
Include low impact exercises such as swimming or cycling. Avoid overworking your plantar fascia with very frequent running. Before exercising, be sure to stretch your calves, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia.
Do your best to stay at a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, try to lose weight to reduce pressure on your plantar fascia.
In the case of prolonged and severe problems, a heel spur can be treated with shockwave treatment. In some prolonged and painful disorders, a cortisone injection or even surgery of the heel may be recommended by physicians. A physiotherapist can help you with exercises that relieve the pain and build muscle in the foot. It can take a long time to get rid of plantar fasciitis, but it usually heals.
When to consult a doctor
If you are still in pain despite rest and better shoes, you should seek medical help.
How APPOTEK can help
- online consultations
- individual assessment and prescriptions, if needed.
- referrals to specialists
- physiotherapy exercises