Heel spurs are a small calcification, which extends into the attachment of the connective tissues from the calcaneus (heel bone). This is easily observed on X-Ray and is very commonly misdiagnosed as
the cause of your pain. Why? Because the wrong type of scan is used and only one foot is examined. Do you know if you have a spur on the other heel, the heel without the pain? Probably? and the heel
spur would have been there long before you had the pain, and will still be there long after the pain is gone. Heel spurs are not the actual cause of heel pain, and are virtually always a secondary
observation or symptom caused by long term pulling on the heel bone.
When a patient has plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and degenerative (worn out)--these abnormalities can make normal activities quite painful. Symptoms typically worsen early in
the morning after sleep. At that time, the plantar fascia is tight so even simple movements stretch the contracted plantar fascia. As you begin to loosen the plantar fascia, the pain usually
subsides, but often returns with prolonged standing or walking.
Symptoms of heel spur syndrome often include pain early in the morning or after rest, as you take the first few steps. It may also include severe pain after standing or walking long hours, especially
on hard cement floors. Usually more pain exist while wearing a very flat soled shoe. A higher heel may actually relieve the pain as an arch is created. The pain is usually sharp, but can also be a
dull ache. The pain may only be at the bottom of the heel, or may also travel along the arch of the foot.
Because the diagnosis of heel spurs can be confused with tarsal tunnel syndrome (as described earlier), most surgeons advocate performing a tarsal tunnel release (or at least a partial tarsal tunnel
release) along with the plantar fascia release. This surgery is about 80percent successful in relieving pain in the small group of patients who do not improve with conservative treatments.
Non Surgical Treatment
Many treatment options exist, and good results are often observed. Generally, a calcaneal spur develops when proper care is not given to the foot and heels. It is often seen as a repetitive stress
injury, and thus lifestyle modification is typically the basic course of management strategies. To alleviate heel spur pain, a person should begin doing foot and calf workouts. Strong muscles in the
calves and lower legs will help take the stress off the bone and thus help cure or prevent heel spurs. Icing the area is an effective way to get immediate pain relief.
Most studies indicate that 95% of those afflicted with heel spurs are able to relieve their heel pain with nonsurgical treatments. If you are one of the few people whose symptoms don?t improve with
other treatments, your doctor may recommend plantar fascia release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and relieve the
inflammation of the ligament. Sometimes the bone spur is also removed, if there is a large spur (remember that the bone spur is rarely a cause of pain. Overall, the success rate of surgical release
is 70 to 90 percent in patients with heel spurs. One should always be sure to understand all the risks associated with any surgery they are considering.