Heel spurs are calcium deposits that cause a bone-like protrusion underneath (close to plantar fascia) or behind (close to Achilles tendon) the heel bone. While often asymptomatic, it can cause pain that can be mistaken for plantar fasciitis.
Heel spurs are often caused by constant strains of the foot muscles and ligaments, meaning athletes and people who do large amounts of running and jumping are at risk. Inappropriate footwear can at times be linked to the spurs. Heel spurs that do not cause any pain do not need any treatment but heel spurs especially at the back of the heel bone that cause pain benefit from focused treatment.
The aim is to avoid pressure on the prominence which can often be achieved by adjusting footwear or putting some protective padding around the painful area. In particular, when the overlying soft tissue is a red and inflamed protection from pressure is very helpful. In addition, an aspiration of fluid can be performed if ultrasound scan confirms a bursa (fluid collection).
Shockwave treatment can be very helpful for persistent pain arising from calcification within the Achilles tendon but if the painful prominence is arising from the heel bone surgical excision might be the only successful option. Using modern techniques, recovery is relatively quick and results are very satisfactory.