Heel spurs are small bony outgrowths on the heel bone. They are actually calcium deposits and they can develop at the back of the heel or under the heel. They are very often related to plantar fasciitis, and are considered a symptom of the condition.
When plantar fasciitis has developed, or is beginning to develop, the plantar fascia ligament has become inflamed and is tight. This causes tension on the heel bone, which responds by releasing calcium to try to alleviate the condition. The calcium deposits can build up and this can become what is known as a heel spur. The spur itself is not always painful, but the related plantar fasciitis is extremely unconfortable.
The calcium deposit can build up over time to the point that it will compress other neighboring ligaments and tendons, and this can cause additional pain. They can be surgically removed if this becomes very pronounced. But usually this is not necessary. Since the heel spur is often developing as a result of the plantar fasciitis, treating one condition will naturally benefit the other. So the heel spur usually begins to diminish as the plantar fasciitis subsides. If surgery does become necessary, which is a rare occurrence, the heel spurs can be removed at the same time.
Most people think that heel spurs are a jagged bony outcropping on the heel, but this is usually not the case. Most often the spurs are smooth and relatively flat. Pain is not always a symptom. Heel spurs can form as a result of improper fitting or poor quality footwear. This is especially true if you are on your feet for long periods of time. Stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory medication are effective methods of treatment. Orthotics which emphasize arch support are also helpful. The treatments for heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are essentially the same.
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