Calcaneal spur or heel spur
What is calcaneal spur or heel spur?
A calcaneal spur is a foot condition that is created by a bony like growth, called a calcium deposit, that can occur on the underside of a person’s foot and extends between your heel bone (or the calcaneus bone) and arch. They are also known as heel spurs.
Heel spurs may be pointy, hooked, and shelf-like. They often start in the front of and underneath your heel and eventually affect other parts of your foot. They can get up to half an inch in length.
Detecting heel spurs can be challenging. They may not necessarily be visible to the naked eye. Heel spurs don’t always cause pain, and not all heel pain is related to spurs. If an X-ray is unable to confirm a suspected heel spur, a doctor may refer to the condition as “heel spur syndrome.”
Calcaneal spur/ heel spur symptoms
Calcaneal spur symptoms can include:
- sharp pain like a knife in the heel when standing up in the morning
- a dull ache in the heel throughout the rest of the day
- inflammation and swelling at the front of the heel
- heat radiating from the affected area
- small, visible bone-like protrusion under the heel
- point of tenderness at the bottom of the heel that makes it hard to walk barefoot
Not everyone with will experience all of these heel spurs symptoms. Some people may experience no symptoms at all. They may only discover the condition if they have an X-ray for another reason.
Who is at risk?
Risk factors in developing calcaneal spurs include:
- Athletic activities like running and jumping
- Frequent walking, running or jumping activities on hard surfaces
- An injury to the heel
- More common in older men and women
- More common in women than men
- Being overweight
- Wearing ill-fitted or worn-out shoes
- Underlying medical conditions like reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.
Calcaneal spur/heel spur causes
One workout or physical activity cannot serve as a calcaneal spur cause. Calcaneal spurs develop over time and are caused by long-term muscle and ligament strain, stressing the heel bone excessively and eventually causing heel spur.
Heel spurs may be caused by:
- bruising of the heel
- excessive body weight
- walking gait issues
- poorly fitted shoes, worn-out shoes, etc.
How is calcaneal spur/ heel spur diagnosed?
For calcaneal spur diagnosis, you need to see an orthopaedic surgeon or a podiatrist.
Even though the bony intrusions are not visible to the naked eye, the doctor will physically examine your foot for signs of redness, inflammation, or any noticeable tenderness. The doctor may also have you do physical tests, like standing on one foot at a time, as well as taking a brief walk.
The doctor may then order for diagnostic imaging tools such as an X-ray to detect the heel spur.
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How is calcaneal spur/ heel spur treated?
Calcaneal spur treatment may include:
- Rest: Getting plenty of rest and taking pressure off the feet can help to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area.
- Applying ice packs or cold compresses: It can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy and stretching exercises: these will help in preventing long-term pain.
- Using custom-made orthotics (shoe inserts): These donut-shaped inserts go inside the shoe to take the pressure off the heel.
- Wearing cushioned sports shoes: These may also help in relieving pressure and reducing pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medication: Some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine or homeopathic medicine for heel spur may help in reducing swelling.
- Cortisone injections: They are a stronger option if anti-inflammatory medication is not effective and help reduce swelling and pain in the affected area.
While mostly the above treatments are effective in heel spur cure, in some rare cases, a heel spur surgery might be necessary to remove the heel spur.
If the heel spur is caused by an underlying condition like arthritis, treating the condition may help improve the symptoms of the heel spur.
How can calcaneal spur/ heel spur be prevented?
Preventing heel spurs requires increased attention to your overall foot health.
- Be mindful of the everyday stresses you place on your feet.
- Be sure to give them a rest at the end of the day.
- Never push through any heel pain that develops. Neglecting heel pain can lead to long-term issues such as heel spurs.
- If you experience heel pain after any activity, ice the area and give your foot some rest until it gets better.