A calcaneal spur is a small bony calcium deposit that protrudes from the side or underside of the heel (calcaneus bone). Calcaneal spurs can extend forward by as much as half an inch.
Causes of Calcaneal Spur
Calcaneal spurs are calcium deposits that build up on the underside of the foot when the bone, muscles or ligaments in the area are exposed to constant stress from things such as jogging, wearing poorly fitted shoes and carrying excess body weight.
The formation of the spur usually develops over a period of several months as the body’s form of protection to the heel. Calcaneal spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis, though experts don’t yet understand why.
Risk factors for heels spurs include gait abnormalities that lead to pronation issues, running and jogging, excess weight and obesity, diabetes, and poorly fitting shoes that lack arch support.
Calcaneal spurs are somehow associated with plantar fasciitis, which is a painful inflammation of the band of tissue (plantar fascia) along the bottom of the foot that connects the calcaneus bone to the toes.
Symptoms of Calcaneal Spur
More often than not, people with heel spurs don’t have any symptoms. Though, the bony protrusions can sometimes irritate the surrounding tissue, thereby causing inflammation that can lead to intermittent or chronic pain in the back and underside of the foot while running, jogging, walking and engaging in other types of physical activity.
Generally, the pain can be described as a sharp knife or pin sticking into the bottom of the foot is generally at its greatest first thing in the morning and slowly dissipates during regular activity throughout the day.
Calcaneal spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes painful inflammation in plantar fascia. Calcaneal spurs are generally invisible to the naked eye and must be detected via X-ray.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment options for calcaneal spurs include exercise, orthotics, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. A combination of these methods usually helps the condition, with 90% or more getting better within a couple of months.
If you have heel pain that persists for several weeks and does not respond to rest, you should visit a doctor. The doctor can suggest some of the stretching exercises to strengthen and repair the plantar fascia, shoe inserts or orthotic devices, shoe suggestions and physical therapy.
Pain associated with the condition can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but more often than not, orthotics can usually correct the causes of heel spurs and relieve the pain on their own. In rare cases, a corticosteroid injection can be given to reduce inflammation.
Most cases of calcaneal spurs can be treated with non-surgical options, but if conservative treatments fail after a period of six to 12 months, surgery can be considered.
Calcaneal spurs can be prevented by wearing comfortable, properly fitted shoes that are appropriate for the type of activity one is engaging in. Better footwear helps in keeping one’s pronation correct as well as protects the feet from irritation. Other preventative measures include avoiding high heels, losing excess weight and stretching before engaging in physical activity.