DEFINITION--A hard, bony growth in the tissue of the heel that causes pain and
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Heel, including the calcaneus (the major bone in the heel).
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Adults. The condition is fairly common among runners
and other athletes.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- No symptoms sometimes.
- Pain and tenderness in the sole of the foot, under the heel bone. Pain occurs after
resting or after rising in the morning.
CAUSES--Stress or injury to the heel tissues, which causes inflammation and
calcification of ligaments in the foot.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Running or jogging. The condition is less likely with vigorous walking.
- Prolonged standing.
HOW TO PREVENT
- Avoid activities that put constant strain on the foot. Switch to swimming or cycling.
- Wear a shoe with a rubber or felt heel cushion.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- X-rays of the heel.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Self-care after diagnosis.
- Doctor's treatment.
- Surgery to remove the spur if other treatments fail (rare). (See Heel-Spur Removal in
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS--Lower-back or knee disorders caused by constant limping.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Usually curable with conservative treatment. If not, heel
spurs are curable with surgery.
How To Treat
- Place a heel cup or felt insert in the shoe to relieve pressure on the heel.
- Get advice from your doctor or a podiatrist (See Glossary)
about custom made shoe inserts to correct structural foot problems.
- For acute pain, use a cold compress or ice pack 3-4 times a day for 10-15 minutes each
- To relieve minor pain and inflammation, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as
ibuprofen or aspirin.
- Your doctor may inject steroids into the inflamed area to reduce inflammation.
ACTIVITY--Stay off your feet as much as possible, especially at the beginning of
DIET--No special diet, unless you are overweight. If so, lose weight to reduce
stress on the foot.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have symptoms of a heel spur.
- Pain or disability persists, despite treatment.