Q: I have heel spurs. The pain is under control, but I worry about this getting worse. What causes heel spurs? Does it have to do with ingesting too much calcium? How about a vitamin deficiency?
A: A heel spur is an x-ray finding in which there's a bit of extra bone (spur) along the bottom or back of the heel bone. But a heel spur is not really a disease. Many people have spurs on their x-rays without pain. And many people with heel pain have no spur!
Heel spurs are not caused by calcium intake or a vitamin deficiency.
If you've had heel pain (with or without a spur on x-ray), the most important thing is for you and your doctor to figure out why. The most common causes are:
--Tendonitis (tendon inflammation), such as Achilles tendonitis
--Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the ligaments in the sole of the foot)
--Certain forms of arthritis
--Injury to the heel (such as a bone bruise or fracture)
Your doctor will likely recommend these treatments:
1. Foot rest
3. Medicine for pain and inflammation
4. A change to more cushioned footwear
5. Stretching exercises and shoe inserts (orthotics) can also help.
(Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. )
(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)