Heel spurs are the result of calcium displacement on the bone around the sole of the heel. It may occur as a little bony protrusion or a group of small, unevenly shaped growths on the heel bone, or the calcaneum. Heel spurs can be painful, and patients often describe the pain like a knife or needle piercing the heel area. Heel spurs can also be painless and only discovered by an X-ray.
Due to the limited information available about the symptoms of heel spurs, many often confuse it with plantar fasciitis. A heel spur is the occurrence of an extra protrusion on the heel bone, while plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia.
Heel spurs may be symptomless, but they can also be associated with chronic or intermittent pain if inflammation occurs at the site of spur formation. Most times, you may not feel any pain because contrary to popular belief, heel spurs are not sharp edges of the bone. They do not damage any tissue during movement. The calcium deposits of heel spurs form from the normal process of bone formation in the body. This makes them smooth and flat like every other bone in the body.
A common cause of heel spur pain stems from the formation of new fibrous tissues around the bony spur, which has a cushioning effect on the stress areas. With the growth of the tissue, a callus forms and occupies more spaces than the heel spur. This ultimately limits the space available for the surrounding network of tendons, ligaments, nerves and supporting tissues. These vital structures of the foot have restricted space due to calcium or tissue accumulation, which could cause swelling and redness of the foot, accompanied by a deep throbbing ache that can worsen with activity.
The pain resulting from heel spurs usually starts when you try to use the foot after resting for a while. In some cases, it could reduce into a dull throb that can escalate when participating in intense activities such as jumping and jogging. The pain is often unbearable and makes it impossible to put weight on the foot.
The cause of the pain lies not in the heel spur itself, but the buildup of soft tissues that occurs. In summary, the symptoms of heel spurs can include:
Once you notice any of the symptoms described above, you need to visit the doctor to have the foot checked. X-rays of the foot may be taken to ascertain the issue. An X-ray is the only way to be sure that heel spurs are the culprit.
Note that the symptoms are not the same in everyone. Some people may not experience symptoms at all. Most times, such people only discover the issue if they have an X-ray for another purpose entirely.
Request an appointment here: https://www.pocatellopodiatry.com or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (208) 803-0010 for an appointment in our Pocatello office.
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