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General Information

DEFINITION--A hard, bony growth in the tissue of the heel that causes pain and difficulty walking.

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.


  • 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.


  • Running or jogging. The condition is less likely with vigorous walking.
  • Prolonged standing.


  • 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.


  • Self-care after diagnosis.
  • Doctor's treatment.
  • Surgery to remove the spur if other treatments fail (rare). (See Heel-Spur Removal in Surgery section.)

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 time.


  • 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 treatment.

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.
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