Heel spurs or plantar fasciitis with reference to the tendons associated with the heel bone is one of most common conditions among athletes. It is also referred to as heel spur syndrome because of its characteristic appearance on the X ray. It is generally caused because of a bony projection under the calcaneus bone. In many cases the pain caused is self limiting. However, the damage caused to the tendons and fibrous tissue around the heel bone can cause radiating pain and extreme discomfort.
The heel bone and the muscles attached to it also known as planar fascia and the soft tissue maintain an arch. This arch drops in case of obesity, faulty running or jumping movements and also because of other factors such as barefoot activities on hard surfaces. The constant exertion of the soft tissue and the muscles associated eventually lead to injury to the respective tissue and also cause a projection which creates an inflammation and pain during contact.
Since heel spurs is associated with sport related injuries and aging, resting the inflamed heel is the first intervention. Often orthopedics recommend anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes suggest options such as shoe inserts for cushioning and also night splints in order to keep the plantar fascia extended. The contemporary method of treatment for severe heel spurs is extra corporeal shock wave therapy.
The plantar fascia is a thin band of tissue that supports the arch of the feet. When this tissue is inflamed or torn, there is heel pain and discomfort. Heel spurs are a common cause for Plantar fasciitis. They are soft calcium deposits that are formed due to inflammation and tension in the heel region. By themselves, heel spurs do not cause pain. Pain associated with plantar fasciitis is usually pronounced on waking up in the morning. The pain is sharp and stabbing. There might be numbness and bruising too.
It can surface during periods of prolonged standing or activity. Causes for plantar fasciitis include ill-fitting shoes, flat feet or high arches or stress on the arch of the foot. Persons who are overweight are more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis as also those who spend a large part of the day on their feet. Sudden injury or lack of flexibility of calf muscles can also contribute to developing plantar fasciitis. Pregnant women, recreational athletes and persons who have suddenly gained weight are more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
It is essential to diagnose the condition correctly as the symptoms are sometimes similar to arthritis, heel bone damage or tarsal tunnel syndrome. X-rays aid in correctly identifying the cause for the pain. NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen are prescribed to alleviate the pain. Corticosteroids can give some relief. In severe cases of plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia is detached from the heel bone. Wearing shoes with adequate arch support, rest and corrective exercises such as stretching and strengthening can help in relieving pain and inflammation. Use of ice pack and massage of the foot helps too. A night splint may be fixed to your calf and foot to stretch the leg effectively.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017