As the largest of the 26 bones in the foot, your heel bone often bears the brunt of excess wear and tear caused by intense activity or poor foot mechanics. Over time, this can lead to the development of a heel spur, or a hooked growth on the underside of the bone. At Universal Footcare in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, board-certified podiatrist Neha J. Pathak, DPM offers comprehensive care for patients with painful heel spurs. Call the office or book your appointment online today.
A heel spur is a bony protrusion that occurs on the underside of the heel bone. With its curved shape that hooks toward the arch of your foot, a bone spur can protrude forward by as much as half an inch.
There’s a strong association between heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, or the painful inflammation of the fibrous tissues that connect your heel to your toes. In fact, approximately half of all people with plantar fasciitis also have heel spurs.
While heel spurs can cause acute or chronic heel pain, it’s just as likely to be the product of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, or some other heel-related problem.
Because heel spurs don’t always cause pain, many people don’t know they have one unless it’s revealed by an X-ray for an unrelated problem.
Most heel problems, including heel spurs, are the result of placing too much stress or pressure directly on the bone or surrounding soft tissues.
Some people get heel spurs after living with untreated plantar fasciitis for too long. Others develop the bony growth because the muscles and ligaments in their feet have been subject to repeated strain. Having the membrane that covers your heel bone repeatedly torn away can also lead to heel spur growth.
These physical conditions may result from a biomechanical imbalance such as flat feet or high arches. They may also result from activities that place intense pressure on your feet, such as running, jogging, or dancing.
Being overweight or wearing overly worn or ill-fitting shoes can also lead to heel spurs.
If you arrive at Dr. Pathak’s office complaining of constant or intermittent heel pain, she’ll examine your foot for any signs of tenderness or inflammation.
She’ll also observe how you walk, balance on one foot, and perform other basic physical tests to help pinpoint whether your problem stems from beneath your heel bone, or behind it. If she suspects you have a problematic heel spur, she can confirm it with an X-ray.
In the past, most podiatrists believed that heel spurs were a major cause of plantar fasciitis pain, so they were often removed surgically.
While surgical treatment may be beneficial for severe cases, most heel spurs respond well to the same conservative measures used to treat plantar fasciitis. These include:
To find out what’s causing your heel pain, call Universal Footcare today or book your appointment online.