Heel spurs are new bone that forms in response to stress to the heel. They serve to protect the bone against the development of microfractures. Spurs start out as cartilage and progress to solid
bone. They are present in about 50 percent of the population, yet not everyone has heel pain- that's the first clue that heel spurs don't always cause heel pain.
These bony protrusions are commonly found in association with a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament, which spans the arch of the foot,
becomes stressed, torn and inflamed. Misalignment and excessive movement of the plantar fascia ligament is most typically the result of an abnormal walking gait. The ligament is designed to stretch
with the bounce of each step you take, but if it stretches too much, the resulting small tears and inflammation can cause mild to extreme discomfort. At the same time, it is believed that heel spurs
are formed as the body attempts to provide some additional support to the over-stretched ligament. In other words, calcium builds up as a prop to the plantar fascia.
Although it may take years to become a problem, once it appears, it may cause considerable suffering. Because of proximity to the tendons, the spur is a source of continuous painful aching. The
sensation has been described as "a toothache in the foot." When you place your weight on the heel, the pain can be sufficient to immobilize you.
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed by your physiotherapist or sports doctor based on your symptoms, history and clinical examination. After confirming your heel spur or plantar
fasciitis they will investigate WHY you are likely to be predisposed to heel spurs and develop a treatment plan to decrease your chance of future bouts. X-rays will show calcification or bone within
the plantar fascia or at its insertion into the calcaneus. This is known as a calcaneal or heel spur. Ultrasound scans and MRI are used to identify any plantar fasciitis tears, inflammation or
calcification. Pathology tests may identify spondyloarthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to plantar fasciitis.
Non Surgical Treatment
A conventional treatment for a heel spur is a steroid injection. This treatment, however, isn?t always effective because of the many structures in the heel, making it a difficult place for an
injection. If this treatment goes wrong, it can make the original symptoms even worse. Another interesting means of treatment is Cryoultrasound, an innovative electromedical device that utilizes the
combination of two therapeutic techniques: cryotherapy and ultrasound therapy. Treatments with Cryoultrasound accelerate the healing process by interrupting the cycle and pain and spasms. This form
of therapy increases blood circulation and cell metabolism; it stimulates toxin elimination and is supposed to speed up recovery.
Usually, heel spurs are curable with conservative treatment. If not, heel spurs are curable with surgery, although there is the possibility of them growing back. About 10% of those who continue to
see a physician for plantar fascitis have it for more than a year. If there is limited success after approximately one year of conservative treatment, patients are often advised to have surgery.