Calcaneal Spur Causes Treatment

Calcaneal Spur: Causes, Picture, Symptoms, and Treatment

The calcaneal spur is also known as the heel spur. It refers to the bone outgrowth of your heel. The pointed bony outgrowth can cause immense pain in the foot region. The calcaneus spur is mostly located under your heel (beneath the sole of the foot) or at the back of your heel. The pain due to the issue can restrict your mobility. So, it can make you miserable. It is better that you take an appointment with the doctor when you suspect the condition.

The heel spur can lead to swelling or pain in one or more joints. It can also restrict your joint movement. Sometimes, you may have no symptoms at all. But, the pain at the bottom of your foot is a warning sign that something is wrong. So, you need to give importance to the issue. Though calcaneal spur may not affect your health, it can cause problems with your mobility. Therefore, know more about the problem by reading ahead.

What Is Calcaneal Spur?

Calcaneal SpurThe calcaneus bone of the heel can experience the outgrowth gradually over the years. The pointed outgrowth leads to chronic local inflammation. It is due to the swelling in the soft-tissue tendons or the fascia. The calcaneal spur can also occur under the heel, back of the heel or beneath the sole of your foot. The inflammation of the Achilles tendon can lead to the calcaneal spur at the back of the heel. So, it causes pain and tenderness at the back of the heel. The condition becomes worse while pushing off the ball of your foot.

Difference Between Calcaneal Spur An Plantar Fasciitis

Most people confuse the two issues. But having plantar fasciitis can increase your risk of developing calcaneal spur. Therefore, the heel spur occurs in people who already have plantar fasciitis. While calcaneal spur occurs due to the calcium deposits. It develops into bony protrusion along your plantar fascia. While the plantar fasciitis is the condition occurring due to the irritation of plantar fascia. So, the region gets swollen leading to pain in the heel.

Calcaneal Spur Causes

Calcaneal spurs do not happen overnight. It is the process of gradual calcium buildup over time. The buildup occurs on the underside of your heel bone. So, you can experience the pain or inflammation after several months. The other causes of the heel spur are:

Therefore, the issue is common among athletes. Sportsperson who focus on the running and jumping activities can suffer from the calcaneal spur.

Risk Factors Of Calcaneal Spur

Some people are more prone to the issue compared to the others. So, the people who experience the following have more probability of suffering from the issue:

  • People who jog or run frequently on hard surfaces
  • Poor or badly fitting shoes that offer very less arch support
  • An individual suffering from excess weight problems (obesity)
  • People with abnormal gait problems

Therefore, people coming under the category place excess stress on the ligaments and nerves near the heel region. The heel bone also experiences immense pressure leading to calcaneal spur.

Symptoms Of Calcaneal Spurs

The main sign of the issue is intermittent pain. So, you can experience chronic pain when you walk, jog or run. The main reason for the pain is not the calcaneal spur, but the soft-tissue injury caused by the issue. So, you need to look out for the following symptoms along with the pain:

  • Inflammation at the region of calcaneal spur
  • Pin sticking feeling of pain at the bottom of the feet while standing
  • Stabbing pain in the morning that gradually turns to a dull ache
  • Sharp pain while standing up after sitting or lying for a long time
  • The heat radiating from the area

Diagnosis Of Calcaneal Spur

You can seek an appointment with your doctor to discuss the symptoms. With proper medical assistance, you can overcome the problem. So, the medical professional may conduct the following diagnostic procedures to detect the problem:

Physical Test

Your doctor understands your history of heel pain. The physical test can reveal the tenderness at the calcaneal spur. It also gives the doctor an idea about the bony growth. Your walk is monitored to detect the problem. With calcaneal spur, it becomes difficult to walk barefoot on wooden floors, tiles or hard surfaces.

X-Ray

X-Ray

If the preliminary examination suggests calcaneal spur, then your doctor can order an x-ray. The x-ray images can reveal the growth in your heel bone.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound imaging can produce the image of the bony outgrowth. It clearly depicts the calcium-containing outgrowth. The clear image of the calcaneus heel bone helps the doctor detect the severity of the problem.

Treatment For Calcaneal Spur

The treatment for calcaneal spur is classified into two types, the surgical and non-surgical treatment options. Depending on the severity of the issue, your doctor opts for the best one for you.

Non-Surgical Treatment For Calcaneal Spur

Unlike other injuries or inflammation, the calcaneal spur does not respond well to rest. You can take rest to alleviate the foot pain. But, you may feel worse with the rest. The stretches and pulls on your heel can make the pain worse. So, you need to walk often to prevent the pain. The pain can recur after extensive walking or prolonged rest. If you find the pain worsening after a month, then you need medical help. Seek an appointment with your doctor to get the right medical advice to eliminate the distress. So, your doctor can recommend the following conservative treatment options like:

Stretching Exercises

The stretching exercises can eliminate the distress due to calcaneal spur. So, you need to perform the exercises three times a day. Doing it in the morning, afternoon, and evening can help reduce the pain due to calcaneal spur. So, you can include the following stretching exercise in your regular routine:

  • Calf Stretches
  • Foot flexes

Shoe Recommendation

Using a good shoe can alleviate the pressure from the heel. So, while choosing a good shoe, you need to focus on the following:

  • Heel Support: the heel of the shoe must have a firm support. It prevents your foot from rolling outward or inward. So, a firm back counter of the shoe supports your heel and prevents injuries.
  • Flexibility: The shoe must have a moderate flexibility. Hence, you need to opt for a shoe that does not flex easily. But, it should have a gradual bend. So, when your foot is bent or flexed, it must have some resistance.
  • Elevated Heel: A shoe or heel insert must have an elevated heel. The slight elevation of not more than one inch high eases the pressure off the painful heel. So, it is ideal to relieve the calcaneal spur.

Physical Therapy

You can work with a physical therapist to develop an exercise program that focusses on relieving the pain by stretching the muscles. The physical therapy program can include massage therapy, ice treatments, and medication to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Night Splints

Night Splints
Source: Amazon.com

The night splints are the arch brace that can offer great relief from the pain and inflammation associated with the calcaneal spur. It can lift the plantar fascia and support it. So, with the support, the connective tissue that maintains the arch of the foot can get relief from the pressure.

Medications

Your doctor can suggest several pain control medications. It relieves the pain associated with the heel spur. So, you can take medications like:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Acetaminophen

Functional Orthotic Device

Functional Orthotic Device
Source:Heelthatpain

To correct the biomechanical imbalances, your doctor can suggest the orthotic device. It corrects the underlying causes of heel and arch pain.

Surgical Treatment For Calcaneal Spur

In most cases, the calcaneal spur clears itself with the nonsurgical treatment methods opted by your doctor. The invasive surgical option is suggested only for the rare cases that do not respond to conservative treatment. Therefore, your doctor first treats the symptoms with the conservative option for at least nine to twelve months. If you see no improvement, then the surgery option is best. The surgical procedure relieves the pain and makes your movement better. So, your doctor can opt from a wide variety of surgical procedures and approaches. The surgical procedure performs the following:

  • Release the plantar fascia
  • Remove the calcaneal spur

By detaching the plantar fascia ligament from your heel bone, the procedure removes the calcaneal spur. Your doctor uses special tools for the surgery. Therefore, the procedure reduces the pressure and eliminates the pain associated with the calcaneal spur. Before the surgery, the doctor performs various tests to determine if you qualify for the surgery.

Post-Surgical Care

After the surgery, you need to observe the post-surgical care religiously until you heal. Therefore, you must include the following steps:

  • Take bed rest as suggested by the doctor. It is to ensure your feet heels quickly without any complication.
  • Keep ice or compression at the surgical site to eliminate the irritation or distress.
  • Elevate the foot for reducing the pressure and swift healing.
  • You need to place weight on the operated foot at the right time suggested by the doctor. It avoids any possible complications.
  • Use bandages, casts, splints, crutches, surgical shoes, canes as necessary to keep the foot protected from potential injuries.

Risk Associated With Surgery

The surgery to alleviate calcaneal spur has some risk associated with it. Before consenting for the surgery, you need to know the full details. So, talk to your doctor for getting a clear picture. The most common risk associated with invasive surgery are:

  • Nerve damage is one of the common risks associated with the surgery. It can lead to nerve pain and numbness in the area.
  • Another complication is the returning of the calcaneal spur even after the surgery. So, it can cause recurrent heel pain.
  • Infection and scarring at the surgical site can occur with the procedure.
  • Some people have complained about the foot cramps, instability, and stress fracture after the procedure.
  • You are also at risk of getting affected by tendinitis after the procedure.

The surgical option is the last resort to alleviate the calcaneal spur. It is chosen by your doctor with the ineffectiveness of the other methods. It can take several weeks for you to walk after the surgery. Therefore, opt for it if no other methods reduce the heel pain.

Home Care For Calcaneal Spur

You need to take adequate steps at home to care for the calcaneal spur. It will decrease the inflammation and pain. The home care steps also reduce the probability of reinjuring the heels. So, you can include the following steps after consulting your doctor:

Cold Compress

Cold therapy is highly effective in relieving the inflammation of the tissue in your heel. You can either apply an ice pack. Never place the ice pack directly on your skin. So, cover it with a cloth to protect your skin. You can also use the cold compression packs on an ice pack to keep it in place. It is easy to obtain the compression packs from the drug store. The compression packs available in the cold foot wraps or gel packs can reduce the pain and inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

You can talk to your doctor about taking the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to relieve the pain. So, using medications like ibuprofen to relieve the agony due to calcaneal spur. You can also take cortisone injection. It may not cure the problem completely. But, the injection can provide pain relief. Therefore, consult your doctor for more details.

Orthotic Devices

The custom-made orthotic devices can take the pressure off your plantar spurs. The donut-shaped insert on your heel suffers the most due to the calcaneal spur. So, you can use heel lifts to reduce stress. The steps can ease the pressure off your Achilles tendon. Therefore, it can diminish the painful spurs you experience at the back of your heel.

You can also use customized orthotics to relieve the pain. The tailor-made molded shoe inserts slip into your shoe. So, you can ease the pressure off your foot. It also prevents the foot from rolling inward or outward. The custom-design provides extra support to your heel. You can consult your podiatrist to get a prescription for the custom orthotics. Therefore, using it can provide good relief and prevent further injuries.

Good Shoes For Alleviating Calcaneal Spur

You can also use shoes with soft soles to protect the heel. Choose a good sports running shoes with a cushioned heel to reduce the irritation caused by the tissue inflammation.

Cryoultrasound

You can see a physical therapist or a podiatrist to access the cryoultrasound therapy. The combination of electromagnetic energy and cold therapy can relieve the distress due to calcaneal spur. Your podiatrist/physical therapist moves a large want attached to the machine over your ankle and foot. Therefore, the effective and efficient treatment option is ideal for heel spur.

Prevention of Heel Calcaneal Spurs

It is possible to prevent calcaneal spurs by following some pointers.it can prevent the heal spurs by affecting your mobility. You can also avoid the pain and distress associated with the issue.

Well-Fitting Shoes

As your heel is affected by the problem, you need to ensure you cause no damage to it. Wearing well-fitting shoes is a good method. A good shoe with shock-absorbent soles can protect your feet from the potential damage. Choosing a show with the appropriate supportive heel counters can minimize the risk of getting hurt. Therefore you can keep your heel safe from any inflammation or damage.

Right Footwear

Choosing the right shoes appropriate for physical activity can minimize the risk of harming your fee. So, the right choice of footwear depending on the activity can reduce the risks of injuries.

Warming Up

Most people get injuries during physical activity due to the lack of warming up. Your muscles need to stretch or warm up before any exercise. Failure to do so can increase the possibility of overexertion of your muscles. Therefore, it can cause trouble. It is advised to perform warming up exercises and stretching exercises to reduce the stress on your foot muscles. You can also pace during the activities to reduce the probability of injuries.

Good Shoe Without Wear

Many people do not check their heel and soles of the shoe. When you wear a shoe with excessive wear and tear on the soles as well as heel, your chances of getting calcaneal spur is high. So, avoid using shoes with excessive wear. It does not offer support to the foot and makes it vulnerable to injuries.

Losing Weight

The increase in weight is associated with the calcaneal spur. The excess body weight can put pressure on the heel of your foot. It adds to several feet problems including inflammation and injuries. So, reducing body weight is significant to avoid such problems. You need to maintain healthy body weight to avoid such complications.

Conclusion

Calcaneal spurs respond to the different types of treatment well. So, you can enjoy a pain-free life with better mobility by getting good medical care. The inflammation can heal well with the conservative and nonsurgical treatment methods your doctor suggests. Only in severe cases, surgical intervention is required to alleviate the pain.

But, the treatment of the underlying inflammatory disease is necessary to prevent calcaneal spur. Ignoring the symptoms can cause severe distress. Your mobility can reduce with the lack of medical care. Therefore, seek an appointment with your doctor and follow the treatment plan religiously. It will eliminate the pain and discomfort.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Ganesh Ramsahai

    Hi Sowmia,

    Many thanks for the kind and generous assistance you are offering persons such as myself. Your work is much appreciated.

  2. Avatar
    S. R. Nurse

    I’ve been to a rheumatologist recently because of the new and sudden onset of Achilles heel pain. As a retired nurse, your article helped me understand the ‘hows and ‘why’s’ of the heel spur. My physician, who ordered the Xrays and MRI told me I have an inflammatory illness but gave me no advice for treatments, orthotic s or PT. She said “take Tylenol!”

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