A heel spur is a calcium deposit on the underside of the heel bone. On an X-ray, a heel spur protrusion can extend forward by as much as a half-inch. Without visible X-ray evidence, the condition is sometimes known as “heel spur syndrome.”
Treatments for heel spurs and associated conditions may include custom made orthotics, night splints and medical products, exercise and stretching, anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections.
Causes of Heel Spurs
Heel spurs occur when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months. Heel spurs are often caused by strains on foot muscles and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes whose activities include large amounts of running and jumping.
Risk factors for heel spurs include:
- Walking gait abnormalities,which place excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves near the heel
- Running or jogging, especially on hard surfaces
- Poorly fitted or badly worn shoes, especially those lacking appropriate arch support
- Excess weight and obesity
Other risk factors associated with plantar fasciitis include:
- Increasing age, which decreases plantar fascia flexibility and thins the heel’s protective fat pad
- Spending most of the day on one’s feet
- Frequent short bursts of physical activity
- Having either flat feet or high arches