There are many kinds of spurs, from the sharp kind you use to get a horse moving, to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks that run along the west side of Palm Coast, to the kind that you can’t see, growing on the bones inside your body. In your feet, extra bone can grow in several places. When it forms under the calcaneus, it is called a heel spur.
Extra Bone, Extra Pain?
Not all heel spurs are painful. If there is pain, it is usually not in the bony growth itself, but in the soft tissues around it, and often that is related to other causes like plantar fasciitis. It seems that about half the people with plantar fasciitis will also develop a spur on the heel. Some believe that the growth forms because the plantar fascia pulls against the bone, which creates extra calcium deposits to lessen the tension. In any case, a spur will resemble a small hook-shaped bone—sometimes up to a half inch long—that grows forward from the bottom of the calcaneus toward the arch.
Plantar Fasciitis and Sore Heels
The tendon under your foot connects your heel bone to those in the ball of your foot. It helps to define the arch of your foot structure, and flexes with each step to reduce the impact on your bones due to walking, running, or jumping. When this tendon wears out, from age, overuse, or other damage, it can’t hold your bones in place as well. As the bones shift about and the arch collapses, even more tension is put on the fascia, so it can stretch or develop tiny tears. This can cause it to swell up and become inflamed, causing pressure and pain. As the tendon relaxes during activity and contracts again when at rest, the constant tugging against the calcaneus can damage the surface of the bone, and heel pain results.
Slow Process, Increasing Discomfort
Heel spur formation is a slow business. The way you walk, running on hard surfaces, wearing poor-fitting shoes that don’t support your foot, or carrying around too much weight can all contribute to spur formation. Arch shapes, jobs that require standing all day, pregnancy, and aging play a role too.
Pain may develop gradually, too. First you may just notice some discomfort in the morning when you get out of bed. As the condition worsens, it may turn into sharp pains that make those first few steps in the morning a misery, and that reoccur throughout the day whenever you walk again after sitting. Such discomfort usually goes away once the tendon loosens up, but eventually the tissues around the spur can become uncomfortable all the time.
Spur On the Healing Process with Rest and Care
Rest, icing, and massage may help your tendon heal, but sometimes that is not enough. If you come in to Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates in Palm Coast, we can determine if a heel spur is present and if it is exacerbating your problems. We have digital X-ray capability right in our office to save you an extra trip, and we also have a new shoe store where we can fit you with good, supportive footwear. We can also design custom orthotics to correct any gait abnormalities you may have.
Many patients have found relief from heel pain just with these methods, but we offer other treatment options as well, including exercise and stretching, medications, injections, shock-wave therapy, or—as a last resort—surgery. Visit us online and ask for our free book, You Deserve Heel Pain Relief. Call (386) 586-7373 and set up an appointment at our Palm Coast office today, or check our other locations and phone numbers on our website. We want you to be able to do your daily activities without pain, so come in today and let us help!
Photo Credit: Satit_Srihin