Heel spurs are small, bony growths on the heel. A spur may develop when the ligament that connects the heel bone to the bones in the toes (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed.
Heel spurs are caused by stress placed on the heel. This may be due to an excess amount of time spent standing, poor footwear, and walking on rough surfaces. Physiological causes may be due to obesity or flat feet.
Most people don’t have any symptoms. But if the bone spurs are pressing on other bones or tissues or are causing a muscle or tendon to rub, they can break that tissue down over time, causing swelling, pain, and tearing. Bone spurs in the foot can also cause corns and calluses.
Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help alleviate the pain associated with heel spurs.
When needed, treatment may include seeing a physical therapist for ultrasound or deep tissue massage. This may be helpful for plantar fasciitis or shoulder pain.
Your doctor may suggest a corticosteroid injection at the painful area to reduce pain and inflammation of the soft tissues next to the bone spur.
Bone spurs can be surgically removed or treated as part of a surgery to repair or replace a joint when osteoarthritis has caused considerable damage and deformity.