A calcaneal spur, or commonly known as a heel spur, occurs when a bony outgrowth forms on the heel bone. Calcaneal spurs can be located at the back of the heel (dorsal heel spur) or under the sole (plantar heel spur). The dorsal spurs are often associated with achilles Tendinopathy, while spurs under the sole are associated with Plantar fasciitis.
The etiology of spurs has been debated. Heredity, metabolic disorders, tuberculosis, systemic inflammatory diseases and many other disorders have also been implicated. Current reasoning is that abnormal biomechanics (excessive or abnormal pronation) is the prime etiological factor for a painful plantar heel and inferior calcaneal spur
The most common etiology is thought to be abnormal pronation which results in increased tension forces within the structures that attach in the region of the calcaneal tuberosity.
Heel spurs often cause no symptoms. But heel spurs can be associated with intermittent or chronic pain — especially while walking, jogging, or running — if inflammation develops at the point of the spur formation. In general, the cause of the pain is not the heel spur itself but the soft-tissue injury associated with it.
The heel pain associated with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis may not respond well to rest. If you walk after a night’s sleep, the pain may feel worse as the plantar fascia suddenly elongates, which stretches and pulls on the heel. The pain often decreases the more you walk. But you may feel a recurrence of pain after either prolonged rest or extensive walking.
If you have heel pain that persists for more than one month, consult a health care provider. He or she may recommend conservative treatments such as:
- Stretching exercises
- Shoe recommendations
- Taping or strapping to rest stressed muscles and tendons
- Shoe inserts or orthotic devices
- Physical therapy
- Night splints
- You can prevent heel spurs by wearing well-fitting shoes with shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters; choosing appropriate shoes for each physical activity; warming up and doing stretching exercises before each activity; and pacing yourself during the activities.
- Avoid wearing shoes with excessive wear on the heels and soles. If you are overweight, losing weight may also help prevent heel spurs
- Magnesium is an essential mineral for bone formation and utilizing calcium. More than half of the magnesium in the human body is stored in the bones, and it’s required by the body for protein synthesis, nerve function and the production of the antioxidant glutathione.
- One way to treat the symptoms of a heel spur is with a warm bath with Epsom salt. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and it has many beneficial properties when it comes to relieving pain and inflammation.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, one of the fish oil benefits, are one of nature’s strongest tools against inflammation.
- Warm oil massages are extremely beneficial for your feet; frequent foot massages increase fluid flow, speed up the healing process and break up scar tissue. By stretching your toes and massaging your toes and heel, the scar tissue heals as stronger and more resilient tissue. If you suffer from heel spur pain, warm up a small amount of olive oil and deeply massage it into your heel. This is also one of the best coconut oil uses. The warm oil — coconut or olive oil — comforts your heels and keeps them safe from the harmful effects of excessive wear and tear.
- Cold therapy can help to relieve inflamed heel tissue. One option is to apply a cloth-covered ice pack to your heel.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications can help you relieve heel pain and discomfort. Examples of anti-inflammatory medications include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen sodium/naproxen (Aleve). By reducing tissue inflammation, these medicines can help to prevent further damage. However, you shouldn’t take anti-inflammatory medications if you have kidney problems or a history of stomach bleeding and ulcers.
- Acupuncture improves plantar heel pain through several pathways. One way is that the insertion of needles causes a local effect on nerve endings, releasing neuropeptides that help eliminate pain. There is also some excellent research showing that a substance called adenosine is released during acupuncture and has a potent pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect as well as promoting blood flow to the area. Other local cells, known as fibroblasts, are stimulated by acupuncture promoting tissue healing in the area.