Heel spurs (calcaneal spurs or plantar fasciitis)
Heel spurs – description:
Heel spurs (also calcaneal spurs, from the Latin calcaneus – heel bone) are pathological and painful ossifications of the tendons located at the heel bones. If the heel spur occurs in conjunction with inflammation, which is normally the case, then it is also called plantar fasciitis. This is the reason why these terms are often used interchangeably in medical diagnosis.
Heel spurs – causes
A heel spur arises as a result of previous overloading of the muscles and ligaments in the foot which are responsible for supporting the longitudinal arch. These begin at the base of the arch (heel bone). The tendon can become inflamed (plantar fasciitis) and, moreover, ossification (heel spur) often arises at the base. Pain which is felt at sole of the foot whilst walking and running is caused by such inflammation. It commonly occurs in combination with “run-in” pain and pain in the forefoot area. The most common cause for this is a lowered longitudinal arch, which causes the ligaments to be subjected to increased tensile stress and the muscles to be overworked, thus increasing the tension. A short, cramped calf muscle (caused by sitting excessively) and shortened toe flexor muscles, along with a stiff and inflexible plantar fascia (tendon plate in the area of the sole of the foot), can all cause a heel spur to develop. A heel spur can usually be detected and identified with an X-ray and upon complaints of pressure pain at the base of the plantar fascia at the heel bone.
Heel spurs – treatment
Shoe inlays with suitable contouring, night splints, ultrasound therapy, shock wave therapy and anti-inflammatory medication are all methods of treatment. The sole, calf and toes should also be stretched out. Walking barefoot and strengthening the shin muscles have also been known to have a remedial effect.