A bony outgrowth beneath the heel bone
Calcaneal Spurs or Osteophytes
A Heel spur is a calcium deposit that causes a bony outgrowth on the heel. They can be located at the back of the heel or under the heel (beneath the sole of the foot). Heel spurs are also called calcaneal spurs or osteophytes. If you are experiencing pain and also have a heel spur, it is possible the pain is not caused by the spur itself but an underlying condition.
What is it?
A heel spur is a bony outgrowth beneath the heel bone. They are most often painless but some cases do cause pain. Pain related to a heel spur may feel like a pin sticking into the bottom of your foot when you first stand up in the morning. Often the pain will later develop into a jabbing or aching sensation beneath the heel bone. The only way to be certain a heel spur is present is to take an x-ray.
What Causes it?
A heel spur may develop for a number of reasons. Most often they accompany a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia. Additional causes of heel spurs are consistent with the causes of plantar fasciitis as well. These causes can include wearing shoes that do not have good arch support, strain on foot muscles and ligaments, flat feet or high arched feet, and being overweight.
What Can I do?
- Treating a heel spur with the same treatment procedures used for plantar fasciitis is usually effective. The treatment usually consists of a combination of stretching exercise, resting and icing the foot, wearing good quality shoes with insoles, and avoiding going barefoot.
- Some cases of heel spurs may benefit from a donut-shaped insert in the shoe.
- If traditional treatments are not proving effective, physical therapy or a corticosteroid injection be necessary.
- In some severe cases surgery may be needed, though this is a last resort and often the doctor will not actually remove the heel spur.
- A healthy lifestyle can help you to avoid developing this condition. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, stretching before physical activity, and wearing supportive shoes both for day-to-day wear and athletic activities.