Heel Spur: What is it, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Heel spurs are a common health problem among the public.
Heel spurs are a common health problem among the public. Heel spurs, which are usually seen on one foot, can sometimes occur on both feet. There are different treatment methods available to relieve the pain experienced by people suffering from heel spurs.
What is Heel Spur?
Heel spurs occur as a result of the accumulation of calcium deposits between the heel and the arch of the foot. These accumulated calcium deposits can become bony and form an outward protrusion in the heel area. Heel spurs can take different forms, such as point-shaped or hook-shaped. The resulting protrusion may start from the heel and extend towards the arch of the foot, that is, the middle part of the foot. Heel spurs often occur with plantar fasciitis, in which the ligaments on the sole of the foot become inflamed.
Plantar fasciitis occurs as a result of inflammation of the ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot.
The name of the web-like ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot is plantar fascia. Plantar fascia, a thick structure, supports the arch of the foot and enables movements such as walking and running to be performed smoothly. However, since the plantar fascia is so frequently involved in daily movements, it becomes prone to wear and tear over time. Excessive pressure on the heel also damages the plantar fascia ligaments. As a result of all these, the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and inflamed. Inflammation also causes stiffness and pain in the heel. Heel spur is one of the most common orthopedic problems in society. Heel spurs, especially seen in runners, are also common in overweight people. Not choosing shoes suitable for your foot structure is also a situation that increases the risk of heel spurs.
What are the symptoms of heel spurs?
The classic symptom of a heel spur is stabbing pain in the heel. In some people, this pain may be aching or accompanied by a burning sensation. Although the pain mainly occurs in the heel area, it may spread towards the middle of the foot in some people. People with heel spurs may notice small bone-like protrusions on the heel. Severity of heel spur pain; It is usually greater in the morning hours, when the person is taking his or her first steps. The pain decreases over time during the day. However, pain may be exacerbated by behaviors such as standing for long periods of time during the day or standing up after sitting for a long time. Climbing stairs can also be challenging for people with heel spurs. Heel spur pain is not very severe during exercise, but the pain increases after the exercise is over.
What Causes Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs occur due to damage to the soft tissues in the heel as a result of long-term wear of the muscle and ligament structures in the foot. Rupture of the membrane covering the outside of the bone in the heel may also be a cause of heel spurs.
With advancing age, the wear of the heel cushions and the decrease in the heel’s shock absorbing capacity also affect the development of spurs.
Some factors that increase the risk of heel development are as follows:
- Athletic Activities: Activities such as running and jumping cause wear on the heel and arch of the foot.
- Moving on Hard Ground: Frequently walking, running and jumping on hard ground causes the structures in the heel to wear out.
- Heel Injury: Traumatic injury to the ball may cause the membrane surrounding the bone in the heel to rupture, predisposing to the formation of spurs.
- Age: The likelihood of heel spurs increases with age.
- Gender: Heel spurs are more common in women than in men.
- Weight: Being overweight increases the pressure on the heel, causing faster wear of the structures in that area.
- Wrong Shoe Selection: The use of shoes that do not support the feet sufficiently and do not fit well is also a risk factor for heel spurs.
Some underlying diseases may also play a role in the formation of heel spurs. These diseases:
- Reactive arthritis (Reiter’s disease)
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- It can be considered as diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis.
How to Identify Heel Spurs?
Since heel spurs show similar symptoms to other diseases that cause heel pain and different foot-related problems, it is not possible for the person to diagnose it on his own. A doctor must be consulted for diagnosis. To diagnose heel spurs, first the patient’s medical history is taken and their complaints are questioned. Characteristics such as the location of the patient’s heel pain and when its severity increases and decreases are important for diagnosis. Also, whether the patient has risk factors for heel spurs is also a guide for diagnosis.
During the heel spur examination, the doctor investigates the presence of signs of inflammation such as redness and swelling in the patient’s foot. Tenderness in the heel is an important finding for the diagnosis of heel spurs. One of the most important examinations in the diagnosis of heel spur is the foot radiograph (film) taken with X-ray rays. The bony protrusions on the heel may not be visible to the naked eye, but these structures can be clearly seen on the radiograph.
How is Heel Spur Treatment?
Heel spur treatment begins with lifestyle changes and rest.
People who suffer from heel spurs can apply cold compresses to relieve foot pain. The relevant area can be anesthetized by placing ice packs on the painful area for 15 minutes. Additionally, cold application helps reduce swelling. For severe pain due to heel spurs, inflammation in the foot can be reduced with corticosteroid injection. With these medications, pain is reduced and other symptoms related to inflammation are alleviated. Simple painkillers can be used for sudden onset, short-term pain due to heel spurs.
Physical therapy modalities can contribute to relieving long-term, chronic pain that may occur as a result of heel spurs. Because corticosteroid drugs cannot be used continuously for long-term pain control. Physical therapy exercises help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the heel and arch of the foot. The patient is taught how to do these exercises by the physiotherapist. Afterwards, the patient can do these exercises on his own at home.
One of the most commonly recommended treatments for heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is rest. Rest plays a role in both relieving acute pain and preventing the condition from getting worse. Rest is especially important in relieving pain after standing for a long time. Orthopedic insoles placed inside the shoes provide support for the arch of the foot. In addition, it also helps reduce heel pain. Additionally, people with heel spurs should choose comfortable shoes that cover every part of the foot.
If the heel spur causes severe pain and gets worse, the patient may need to undergo surgical intervention. During surgery, the heel spur is removed from the patient, and in some cases, the plantar fascia is relaxed. With heel spur surgery, the patient’s pain is reduced and the patient’s movement limitation is eliminated. Most patients who undergo surgery have plantar fasciitis as well as heel spurs. Because other treatment methods are usually sufficient for patients who only have heel spur problems. To speed up the healing process after heel spur surgery, the patient can apply cold to the surgical area. In addition, after the surgery, the patient must rest for a certain period of time before stepping on the operated foot.
Heel spurs are an especially orthopedic problem that can restrict many daily activities, especially walking. Therefore, heel spurs are a condition that must be treated. Many factors such as the severity of the patient’s pain and the size of the foot deformity are effective in the treatment. After the treatment, the patient continues his daily life more comfortably. It would be beneficial for people who suspect heel spurs to consult the nearest health center without delay.