Bone Spur Heel

By Barbara Hales, M.D.
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Bone Spur Heel

A bone spur of the heel is a calcium deposit appearing as a bony protrusion. Bone spurs may or may not cause heel pain but often appear with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue running along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the ball of the foot.

Cause of Bone Heel Spurs

Heel spurs appear when calcium deposits accumulate on the undersurface of the heel bone from:

  • Strains of foot muscles
  • Stretching of the plantar fascia
  • Repeated membrane tears over the heel bone

Risk factors for bone heel spurs are:

  • Abnormal gait
  • Obesity
  • Jogging or running on hard surfaces
  • Diabetes
  • Ill-fitting shoes with poor arch support
  • Older age
  • Having fallen or high arches
  • Standing all day

Symptoms of Bone Heel Spurs

 While often asymptomatic, bone spurs of heels can cause sensations of pinpricking or knife-stabbing pain when jogging, running or walking. The intermittent or chronic pain may transition into a dull ache. When on the feet for a long time, pain may return.

 What I Should do for Bone Spurs of Heels

Resting does not help the symptoms associated with bone spurs of heels.   Pain often resolves the more you walk. However, strenuous walking or resting for a long time can cause the pain to reoccur.

Actionable Steps you can take to prevent heel spurs include:

  • Avoiding shoes worn down on the soles and heels
  • Losing weight if obese
  • Wearing shoes with rigid shanks, supportive heels and shock-absorbent soles
  • Having shoes designated and designed for each physical activity
  • Warming up with stretches prior to exercise

Additional actionable steps for bone spurs of heels include having feet measured followed by getting custom-made orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections to the affected area.

If conventional treatments for bony heel spurs fail, surgery may be needed.

Surgery for Bone Spurs of the Heel

 Less than one in 10 people need surgery for bone spurs of the heel. Surgery is advised for alleviation of pain and improving mobility if a person’s activity becomes limited. Surgical intervention is suggested only when conservative therapy fails to affect symptoms after up to one year. Surgery is performed to remove the bone spur and release the plantar fascia.

Postoperative instructions include:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Foot elevation
  • Use of splints, surgical shoes, crutches, canes

Surgical risks include:

  • Nerve pain
  • Infections
  • Scarring
  • Paresthesia (numbness) to the affected area
  • Foot cramps
  • Recurrent heel pain