What is a Calcaneal Spur?

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  • Written By: Emma Lloyd
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2018
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A calcaneal spur is a bony spike formation which develops on the heel of the foot in response to chronic pressure or traumatic injuries. They may also be known as traction exostosis, heel spurs, or calcaneus spurs. A calcaneal spur can often be treated with rest and physical therapy, but a severe case may require surgery.

The formation of a heel spur is one of the most common reasons for the development of heel pain. The spur forms due to thickening of the calcaneal bone in the heel of the foot, which causes pain because the new bone growth presses into the surrounding heel tissue. In most cases, the pain is worst immediately after rising, and gradually eases up over the course of the day.

Calcaneal spurs may develop for a variety of reasons, including weight gain, wearing improper footwear, and plantar faciitis, an inflammation of the arch of the foot. A calcaneal heel spur may also develop if calf muscles are weak, because of the extra pressure this places on the heels. People with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or poor circulation are at increased risk of developing a heel spur.


Diagnosis is usually made on the basis of an X-ray, which will indicate where the spur is located on the heel. There are several different types of heel spur treatment. In the early stages of the disease, treatments such as regular exercise, weight loss, or supportive footwear can help prevent the spur from developing further. Exercises to strengthen the calf muscles are most helpful, as they help reduce the pressure placed on the heel during movement.

In more advanced cases, pain may be more severe, and not limited to the morning period. Over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatories and analgesics may be helpful; in very severe cases, a doctor may prescribe steroid medications to reduce inflammation, as well as stronger painkillers. Elevation and application of heat also help reduce pain, as these treatments improve blood circulation to the foot.

If none of these treatments work in the long term, calcaneal spur surgery may be required to correct the problem. Surgery is carried out to remove the spur entirely, and as long as the factors which caused the spur to form are no longer present, it is unlikely to regrow. During this procedure, an incision is made at the side of the heel, through which the spur of bone is removed. The recovery period for this surgery is often long, and may take several months.


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Post 1

The calcaneal spur or heel spur is a bony formation under the heel close to the insertion of the plantar fascia. This happens because of too much tensile stress in the plantar fascia and/or a lack of shock absorption under the heel. The heel spur is actually asymptomatic which means that it is not painful. Pain may occur, but it is because of the plantar fasciitis that is occurring conjointly with the formation of the heel spur.

A plantar fasciitis is actually an inflammatory response of your plantar fascia or plantar aponeurosis which is kind of a ligament that maintains the foot arch elevated so that your foot is functional. This is generally related to a flat foot deformity caused

by too much movement in some foot articulations which is called hyperpronation (of the subtalar joint and/or midtarsal joint, but it might also appear in a high arch foot) which lead to repetitive microtrauma of the plantar fascia.

When the condition is acute, meaning that there is a lot of pain and swelling, the treatment is called RICE, which means Rest, Ice about 15 minutes 3 times a day, Compression with an Ace wrap and Elevation to drain the inflammation. Some exercises of stretching and muscle reinforcing could also be prescribed to help the condition.

If this isn't enough, then a cortisone injection and the use of strapping might be needed to help reducing the inflammatory response and the pain. If the condition persist or is recurrent, then functional orthosis could be prescribed to help restore an appropriate biomechanics of the foot and help maintaining the foot arch so that pronation of the foot is controlled.

If none of these treatments are working, then the shockwave therapy could be considered and realized be the proper physician.

Finally, if nothing is still working, then the fasciotomy could be realized by a podiatrist surgeon which is actually partially cutting the plantar fascia to release the tension into it and then help healing and prevent reoccurring.

If you are experimenting any symptoms of the plantar fasciitis, I suggest you consult a podiatrist so he can evaluate your condition and guide you through the right treatment option.

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