What are Heel Bone Spurs?

Bone spurs are a common ailment for a number of active and older adults. Simply put, a bone spur is a growth of bone tissue that starts along any edge of the bone tissue and it can originate from any bone in the body. While any bone in the body is at risk of bone spurs, the joint areas are typically where these outgrowths of tissue occur most. When these outgrowing tissue structures form, pain can be a challenge for a number of individuals, which is why it is important to have proper protection.

How are Bone Spurs Created?

Bone spurs are common on parts of the body that are under stress, especially repetitive stress. One area in particular is the heels of the feet, which is constantly under stress throughout the day. Runners and highly active adults are at risk of bone spurs that affect the heels simply due to the excessive force that this part of the body receives. In addition to stress playing a role in the formation of the outgrowth of bone tissue, some individuals are born with bone spurs.

Are Bone Spurs Painful?

The overall sense is that bone spurs can be painful, especially if they are located around an active joint in the body, such as the knee, ankles, or even the heel of the foot. Perhaps the most painful issue with bone spurs comes from the heels, since it is likely that the pain will be noticed with each step taken.

While bone spurs can cause discomfort and pain in the affected area, not everyone will experience this same symptom. For example, many people only find out they have bone spurs following an x-ray examination. In addition, it is reported that about 50 percent of individuals with bone spurs experience pain, thus suggesting that a large portion may have some sensation related to the condition.

How to Treat Heel Spurs

Treatment for bone spurs generally are geared towards decreasing the level of pain experienced. Listed below are some treatment options for bone spurs that are available.

  • Shoe Orthotics. One common treatment option for bone spurs, especially in the heel, is to find a shoe that fits properly and provides the proper protection. Many adults are forced to shift towards orthotics to help correct and alleviate the pain.
  • Physical Therapy. In addition to wearing shoes that can help to alleviate some of the pain in the heels associated with bone spurs, physical therapists can help to fight the painful sensation of the condition. If the bone spurs are in the heels or another joint in the body, physical therapists can help to combat the pain and holistically improve the symptoms of the condition.

Who is Most At-Risk of Bone Spurs?

As mentioned above, bone spurs can occur anywhere in the body, but places that are under physical stress as well as joints is most affected. With that said, certain individuals may be affected in a different manner. Osteoarthritis, or the breakdown of the protective lining of the joint tissue, can cause an individual to be more at-risk than someone who does not have the condition.

In addition, individuals with plantar fasciitis may be more at risk of heel bone spurs, since this tissue lines the bottom of the foot and extends towards the heel area. While individuals with plantar fasciitis are more at risk of bone spurs on the heels, it should be noted that heel spurs are not a direct cause of plantar fasciitis. Consulting with a doctor is typically the first part of assessing the degree to which you are affected by bone spurs and finding a way to treat heel spurs can then follow.

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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

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Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

image

Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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