This is a bony protrusion on the bottom of the foot caused by a growth of calcium that has begun to project downward and touch the plantar fascia (the thick piece of tissue underneath the skin on the sole of the foot).
If the pain is acute, taking an analgesic (i.e., Tylenol or Ibuprofen) usually alleviates the pain. Foot baths sometimes help as well. If this is not sufficient, ultrasound therapy, electrogalvanic stimulation, steroid injections with analgesics, shockwave therapy, and even BOTOX® often help.
Heel spur surgery is designed to correct whatever biomechanical problem is causing the spur in the first place.
Causes of Heel Spurs
Since heel spurs occur when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months, they are often caused by strains on foot muscles and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes whose activities include large amounts of running and jumping.
Common Risk Factors for Heel Spurs
- Walking gait abnormalities, which place excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves near the heel
- Running or jogging, especially on hard surfaces
- Poorly fitted or badly worn shoes, especially those lacking appropriate arch support
- Excess weight and obesity
Other Risk Factors Associated with Plantar Fasciitis
- Increasing age, which decreases plantar fascia flexibility and thins the heel’s protective fat pad
- Spending most of the day on one’s feet
- Frequent short bursts of physical activity
- Having either flat feet or high arches