Bone spurs (retrocalcaneal spur, or exostosis) can develop not only on the back of the heel, but also on the toes, mainly around the fifth (small) toe. Most often, they occur next to the toenail on
the outside of the toe; on the inside of the toe near the tip, where the fifth toe presses against the fourth toe; and on the inside of the base of the toe. Bone spurs can also occur on the sides of
the toes. This is usually due to wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe box, which causes the toes to press against each other. Bone spurs may also develop in the arch area of the top of the
foot; this area becomes painful when you tie your shoelaces tightly or exert other pressure on that part of the foot. Formation of spurs in this area is often associated with arthritis.
Generally caused by lack of flexibility in the calf muscles and/or excess weight, heel spurs occur when the foot bone is exposed to constant stress and calcium deposit build-up on the bottom of the
heel bone. Repeated damage can cause these deposits to pile up on each other, presenting a spur-shaped deformity.
Although it may take years to become a problem, once it appears, it may cause considerable suffering. Because of proximity to the tendons, the spur is a source of continuous painful aching. The
sensation has been described as "a toothache in the foot." When you place your weight on the heel, the pain can be sufficient to immobilize you.
Diagnosis of a heel spur can be done with an x-ray, which will be able to reveal the bony spur. Normally, it occurs where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. When the plantar fascia
ligament is pulled excessively it begins to pull away from the heel bone. When this excessive pulling occurs, it causes the body to respond by depositing calcium in the injured area, resulting in the
formation of the bone spur. The Plantar fascia ligament is a fibrous band of connective tissue running between the heel bone and the ball of the foot. This structure maintains the arch of the foot
and distributes weight along the foot as we walk. However, due to the stress that this ligament must endure, it can easily become damaged which commonly occurs along with heel spurs.
Non Surgical Treatment
The majority of heel spurs are treated with non-surgical interventions. These can relieve pain, but may take from about 3 months to up to a year for symptoms to resolve. Rest, icing, and
over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or prescription medications can help ease symptoms. Cortisone injections may also be used. Physical therapists may instruct you to perform stretching exercises to
help relax the tissues in the heel. Your doctor may recommend custom orthotics or shoe inserts to position and cushion your heel. Night splints can help position the heel and arch of the foot while
you sleep. Some doctors may recommend extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT). This treatment uses energy pulses to start the repair process in the heel tissues. ESWT is recommend when other
non-surgical treatments have failed.
In some cases, heel spurs are removed by surgery after an X-ray. While the surgery is typically effective, it?s a timely and expensive procedure. Even after surgery, heel spurs can re-form if the
patient continues the lifestyle that led to the problem. These reasons are why most people who develop painful heel spurs begin looking for natural remedies for joint and bone pain. Surgery isn?t
required to cure a heel spur. In fact, more than 90 percent of people get better with nonsurgical treatments. If nonsurgical methods fail to treat symptoms of heel spurs after 12 months, surgery may
be necessary to alleviate pain and restore mobility.
Choose new shoes that are the right size. Have your foot measured when you go to the shoe store instead of taking a guess about the size. Also, try on shoes at the end of the day or after a workout,
when your feet are at their largest. To ensure a good fit, wear the same type of socks or nylons that you would normally wear with the type of shoe that you are trying on.