Heel Spurs should be called a traction spurs because they grow in the same direction that the tendons pull away from the heel bone, which is why it can occur on the bottom of the heel (Plantar
Fasciitis) and on the back of the heel (Achilles Tendonitis). Some patients may only develop one type of heel spur, but both these problems are closely related so it's not unusual for a patient to
have both heel spurs. It's important to note though that most heel spurs aren't the cause of your heel pain.
A heel spur can develop when there is an abundance of calcium creating a deposit in the calcaneus, or heel bone. Over time, this deposit grows to create an outcropping under the heel that extends
into the foot. The result is a protrusion that leads to foot pain when pressure is applied, and in some cases, even during rest.
Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms. You might not realize you have bone spurs until an X-ray for another condition reveals the growths. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and
loss of motion in your joints.
Diagnosis is made using a few different technologies. X-rays are often used first to ensure there is no fracture or tumor in the region. Then ultrasound is used to check the fascia itself to make
sure there is no tear and check the level of scar tissue and damage. Neurosensory testing, a non-painful nerve test, can be used to make sure there is not a local nerve problem if the pain is thought
to be nerve related. It is important to remember that one can have a very large heel spur and no plantar fasciitis issues or pain at all, or one can have a great deal of pain and virtually no spur at
Non Surgical Treatment
Diathermy treatment uses an electrical current to produce heat that sedates the inflamed tissues. The ultrasound device sends sound waves into the heel and sets up a massaging action that stimulates
blood circulation. Treatment with a whirlpool bath involves placing the foot directly into the jetting stream. Orthopedic molds and appliances, such as orthotics, are designed by foot specialists for
use inside the shoe to eliminate irritation to the heel when the patient stands or walks. When those appliances are used, the spur (in effect) floats on air. At the same time, the body's weight is
transferred forward from the tender spot.
In a small number of cases (usually less than 5 percent), patients may not experience relief after trying the recommendations listed above. It is important that conservative treatments (such as those
listed above) be performed for AT LEAST a year before considering surgery. Time is important in curing the pain from heel spurs, and insufficient treatment before surgery may subject you to potential
complications from the procedure. If these treatments fail, your doctor may consider an operation to loosen the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release.