Heel spurs

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.

A person with a heel spur may not be aware of any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Pain or tenderness over the weight-bearing part of the bottom of the heel.
  • A bump that can sometimes be felt when the area is touched.

However, symptoms in the heel are most often caused by inflammation rather than by the spur itself.

A heel spur can be diagnosed by looking at an X-ray. In most cases the spur is not the main cause of the heel pain, so the spur is generally left alone and the cause of the heel pain is treated. For instance, a painful and inflamed tendon near the spur (plantar fasciitis) may need treatment. If a spur is found to be the main cause of the heel pain, surgery or injections may be needed.

Last Updated: January 28, 2010

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Richa Dhawan, MD - Rheumatology

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