The calcaneus is the largest bone in the foot. Pain in the heel region can sometimes be related to Plantar Fasciitis, inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament in the heel area. A heel spur is a
hook of bone that forms on the calcaneus where the plantar fascia attaches. Heel spurs can be identified with an X-ray. A heel spur can occur with or without Plantar Fasciitis.
Heel spurs under the sole of the foot (plantar area) are associated with inflammation of the plantar fascia (fasciitis), the "bowstring-like" tissue stretching underneath the sole that attaches at
the heel. Plantar heel spurs cause localized tenderness and pain made worse when stepping down on the heel. Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis can occur alone or be related to underlying diseases that
cause arthritis (inflammation of the joints), such as reactive arthritis (formerly called Reiter's disease), ankylosing spondylitis, and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. It is important to
note that heel spurs may cause no symptoms at all and may be incidentally discovered during X-ray exams taken for other purposes.
Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms. You might not realize you have bone spurs until an X-ray for another condition reveals the growths. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and
loss of motion in your joints.
Because the diagnosis of heel spurs can be confused with tarsal tunnel syndrome (as described earlier), most surgeons advocate performing a tarsal tunnel release (or at least a partial tarsal tunnel
release) along with the plantar fascia release. This surgery is about 80percent successful in relieving pain in the small group of patients who do not improve with conservative treatments.
Non Surgical Treatment
In extreme cases, a doctor may recommend surgery for the removal of heel spurs. Fortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most cases can be resolved with a combination of icing, rest,
foot stretches and supporting the foot with an orthodic shoe insert specifically designed for this condition. We recommend that you continue on to our article on Heel Spur Treatment to discover the
best, speediest and most affordable methods of resolving this ailment without invasive medical procedures.
Surgery, which is a more radical treatment, can be a permanent correction to remove the spur itself. If your doctor believes that surgery is indicated, he will recommend an operation - but only after
establishing that less drastic methods of treatment are not successful.