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Heel Spur | Bone Spur

Heel Spur | Bone Spur

A bone spur (osteophyte) is a bony growth that forms along the edge of normal bone in response to wear and tear, most frequently in the joints. A heel spur is a bone spur of the heel bone, which causes heel pain by rubbing on the achilles tendon or other soft tissues.

 

What causes a bone spur or heel spur?

When a bone is subjected to pressure, rubbing, or other stress over long periods, it tries to repair itself by building extra bone. This extra bone is what is referred to as a “spur”. Many form as part of the aging process when cartilage breaks down in the joints.

Bone spurs can form anywhere in the feet in response to tight ligaments, repetitive stress injuries (typically from sports), obesity, even poorly fitting shoes. For instance, when the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot pulls repeatedly on the heel, the ligament becomes inflamed, causing plantar fasciitis. As the bone tries to mend itself, a bone spur forms on the bottom of the heel, typically referred to as a heel spur. This is a common source of heel pain.

Symptoms of a heel spur

Most heel spurs cause no symptoms and may go undetected for years. If they cause no pain or discomfort, they require no treatment. Occasionally, a bone spur will break off from the larger bone, becoming a “loose body”, floating in a joint or embedding itself in the lining of the joint. This can cause pain and intermittent locking of the joint. In the case of heel spurs, sharp pain and discomfort is felt on the bottom of the foot or heel.

Treatment of bone spurs and heel spurs

Your podiatrist at PA Foot and Ankle Associates may recommend one or more of these treatments to manage the pain from your heel spur:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Over the counter pain medication (ibuprofen)
  • Change of footwear
  • Custom designed orthotic shoe inserts
  • Over the counter shoe inserts like padding or heel cups
  • Weight management to take pressure off joints
  • Stretching exercises
  • Deep tissue massage via physical therapy
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Surgery if conservative treatments fail to relieve pain

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PA Foot And Ankle Associates

Podiatrist, Foot Doctors in Allentown, Easton, Northampton, Lansford, PA