Heel spur symptoms are not easily visible to the naked eye most of the times and for this reason, the pain on account of it is usually mistaken for plantar fasciitis (a swelling in the ligaments and tendons of the feet).
The largest bone in the human foot, the heel bone, is constantly subject to shock and pressure. If the plantar fascia (a layer of tissues in the arch of the foot) is made to withstand stress and strain over a prolonged period of time, small, hook like bony protrusions (called heel spurs) begin to form on the undersurface of the heel bone because of deposition of calcium.
Heel spurs are formed around tendons and ligaments and act as sheaths that provide protection from swelling and pain. Infact, one of the main heel spur symptoms i.e. pain is not caused by the spur at all, but by the culprit behind heel spur- plantar fasciitis. Only 30% of such cases are confirmed without an x-ray, because the deformity or protrusion is not too pronounced to be noticeable. However, in extreme cases where the protrusion is upto half an inch in size can be seen without an x-ray as well.
Here is a list of heel spur symptoms which can help you in the timely detection of spurs and enable you to initiate timely action. Watch out for these symptoms to get timely treatment before heel pain makes life miserable for you.
The main symptom through which heel spurs manifest themselves is a chronic pain in the foot. This pain might be continuous or intermittent and is usually bearable. In extreme cases, however, the pain can become debilitating and can even hamper movement or day-to-day activities. This pain is usually very intense when the patient puts the foot back into action after a period of rest. The affected person might also limp for a step or two before he can walk properly because of the pain he experiences when the foot touches the ground. In most cases, the pain is considered to have been caused by fatigue and ignored.
To be able to know if the pain has actually been caused by a heel spur, the affected person needs to observe carefully WHEN the pain begins. The agony caused by a heel spur is at its worst when the foot touches the ground after a period of rest. There is a sudden stinging sensation in the heel area, as if poked with a sharp knife. The reason behind this is that when we rest or relax, all the muscles, nerves and tissues of our body also relax. When we put the foot back into action after a period of rest, the nerves which are in a state of rest take some time (a few seconds) to adapt to the needs of the body and resume normal blood supply. Once normal blood circulation resumes, the pain eases or takes the form of a dull ache that lingers on through out the day but is forgotten because of work.
Athletes, sprinters and gymnasts might experience a pain in the heel during the course of their exercise regime i.e. while jogging, running, jumping, etc. This is due to the stress caused to the plantar fascia when they undertake such rigorous activity.
Pain in the heel might be the most noticeable heel spur symptom, but it surely is not the only problem that can be brought forth by a troublesome heel! Heel spurs might also cause reddishness and inflammation in the heel area. Extreme cases might also be accompanied by minor bruises along the heel. These are caused by regular strain to the heel and are usually seen when heel spurs remain undetected and hence, unattended for a long period of time.
To make sure that a heel spur does not make life nightmarish for you, look out for early heel spur symptoms and consult your orthopedist before it is too late!