A heel spur is a hard, bony growth that forms along the bottom of the heel bone, usually “pointing” toward the front of the foot. While some very small heel spurs cause no symptoms, larger spurs may press into the surrounding soft tissues, causing pain in the heel or other areas of the foot. Bone spurs can form in other areas of the body as well. When they form on the heel, bone spurs can cause chronic painful problems like plantar fasciitis, pressing into the soft connective tissue that surround and support the arch. Heel spur symptoms become worse when placing pressure on the foot or heel when walking, standing or performing other weight-bearing activities.
A heel spur forms when tiny deposits of calcium begin building up on the heel bone, typically as a result of excess pressure on the heel and the ligaments and muscles that surround and support it. Over time, excess pressure also can begin to wear away the membrane that extends over the surface of the heel. Spurs are more likely to occur in men and women whose feet are subjected to repetitive pressures and impacts, like competitive runners, and they’re also more common among people who:
Heel spurs are also more common among people with certain types of foot shapes or gait (walking) patterns.
Many heel spurs can be treated conservatively using custom orthotics to provide better support for the soft and connective tissues in the midfoot region. Orthotics also can help relieve pressure and friction that can cause heel spurs and exacerbate their symptoms. In addition, oral pain medications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to reduce pain along with application of ice packs. Gentle stretching exercises may be useful in promoting strength and flexibility in the arch portion of the foot, as well as stimulating healing in sore or damaged soft tissues. In a few cases when conservative approaches are not effective in providing meaningful, long-term relief, surgery may be performed using very small incisions to access and remove the heel spurs.
Our Pain Laser at NOVA Foot and Ankle in Herndon and Springfield, Virginia is FDA cleared to emit energy in the visible and infrared spectrum, to provide topical heating for the purpose of elevating tissue temperature for the temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain or stiffness, minor arthritis pain, or muscle spasm, the temporary increase in local blood circulation, or the temporary relaxation of muscle.