Signs Your Heel Pain Is From A Heel Spur
February 7, 2023
Heel spurs are a hot topic in our clinic – particularly around whether they’re the underlying cause of a person’s ongoing or recurring heel pain. There’s a lot of confusion and misconceptions around heel spurs, especially in relation to plantar fasciitis heel pain. Here’s what you should know about heel spurs from the heel pain experts.
What Is A Heel Spur?A heel spur is a bony growth that develops on the underside of the heel bone (calcaneus). It typically forms in response to repeated stress or pressure on the heel, which causes calcium deposits to accumulate and harden over time. Heel spurs can range in size and shape, and they may or may not cause pain or discomfort. They are often associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition that involves inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toes. It should be noted that bony spurs can develop in areas all around the body where a tendon attaches to bone. This includes a spur at the back of the heel bone, at the Achilles tendon.
What Causes Heel Spurs?Bony spurs develop when soft tissues repetitively apply stress to the bone that they are attached to. This may be the result of overdoing it during exercise, poor foot mechanics that overload the tendons, medical conditions like arthritis or gout, wearing unsupportive footwear that leads to excess strain on the tendons, and may even be linked to the ageing process, where our bones and tissues naturally grow weaker.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heel Spurs?Interestingly, the majority of people we see with heel spurs do not experience any symptoms, painful or otherwise, and the spurs are often detected incidentally on X-rays or other imaging tests. However, when symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Pain: this is felt on the bottom of the heel. The pain is often described as a sharp, stabbing sensation that worsens with standing, walking, or running.
- Inflammation: the plantar fascia (the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and the one affected in the condition plantar fasciitis), can occur alongside heel spurs. This can cause swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area.
- Tenderness: the area around the heel spur may be tender to the touch.
- Stiffness: there may be stiffness or reduced flexibility in the affected foot.
- Difficulty walking: the pain and discomfort associated with heel spurs can make it difficult to walk normally, especially first thing in the morning or after periods of rest.