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Heel Spur

Heel Spur

It’s not uncommon for us to see patients complaining of pain from heel spurs. They often describe a sharp pain at the bottom of their foot with each step that feels like a ‘sharp knife’.

What is a heel spur?

A heel spur is a bony protrusion or growth at the bottom of your heel bone (calcaneus), formed from calcium. On x-ray, it looks like a spike projecting down from the middle of the heel bone.

Heel spurs are caused by the pull on tissues and muscles that attach to the heel bone. This process occurs over time and particularly in those whose regular activities put excess strain on the tissues of the heel such as running and jumping. Other contributing factors include:

  • Abnormal foot posture that place excess stress on the tissues surrounding the heel
  • High impact activities
  • Unsupportive footwear
  • Increased weight

How do they cause heel pain?

Typically, it’s not the spur itself that is painful but the soft tissue surrounding the spur that becomes tender and swollen. One of these tissues is the plantar fascia and this is how heel spurs are often associated with Plantar Fasciitis. This produces symptoms including:

  • Sharp stabbing pains
  • Throbbing or aches at the heels
  • Pain on standing after rest

Can the pain be something other than a heel spur?

Absolutely. Having heel pain doesn’t mean you have a heel spur, just like having a heel spur doesn’t mean that you have heel pain. We see plenty of patients who will have a heel spur on a foot that isn’t painful and have no spur on the foot that has heel pain (see the fact below!). Your Podiatrist will go through a thorough biomechanical examination and where indicated, send you for an x-ray to get an accurate diagnosis and provide the most effective treatment.

Interesting Fact: In 2014, a study examining x-rays from 900 people from a variety of age ranges found that 38% had a spur at either the bottom or back of their heel. This same study found them to occur more frequently in women below the age of 50, and the general prevalence of heel spurs to be higher in the age range of 40 to 79 years old. While this study didn’t examine whether those people with heel spurs had any heel pain, the relatively common prevalence of spurs does support the findings of other studies that showed that having a heel spur did not mean you had heel pain, and vice versa. You could be walking around on a heel spur right now and not even know it!

Two weeks with Calcaneal Spur and finally got to see Doc. He sent me to Kevin @ Eleven and with One Appointment, he had me walking without Crutches. Yes! It still hurt. Did the Stretching, Rolling my Foot on a Spikey ball and Iced it occasionally. Return visit, after he had his Holiday, and I' am walking fine. They do NOT want to see me again, unless it deteriorates. Which it has not :-)
- Ivan CooKe