Heel Spurs: Bony Growths That Can Cause Heel Pain

Heel spurs don't always cause symptoms, but some people experience sudden, intermittent, or chronic pain—often when they walk. Pain may also occur when you get out of bed in the morning and first stand. The pain can be a dull ache throughout the day or a sharp or stabbing pain on the inside, back, or bottom of the heel when you stand after sitting.

Although heel spurs can take many months to develop, they frequently occur in individuals with plantar fasciitis—inflammation of the fibrous tissue along the bottom of the foot that stretches from the heel to the toes. But there are other causes of and risk factors for heel spur pain.


Although the heel bone can absorb a lot of shock and pressure, it isn't infallible. Eventually, excessive wear and tear on the bone and soft tissues connected to it can cause problems.

Common causes of heel spurs and heel pain include:

  • Buildup of calcium deposits on the underside of the heel bone

  • Inflamed plantar fascia—the connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot

  • Strains on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments attached to the heel bone

  • Repeated tearing of the lining that covers the heel bone

Risk Factors

Athletes who do a lot of running, jogging, or jumping, particularly on hard surfaces, are at particular risk of heel spurs. But since athletes aren't the only individuals who suffer heel spurs, other risk factors include:

  • Wearing poorly-fitted shoes or shoes without proper arch support

  • Putting excessive stress on your heel when you walk or perform another activity that causes repetitive overuse injury

  • Gaining extra pounds, which puts additional load on your foot

Diabetes, deterioration of the plantar fascia that occurs with age, and flat feet or high arches are risk factors for plantar fasciitis, a condition that thins the heel's fat pad, making the heel more susceptible to injury and pain. Plantar fasciitis is often associated with heel spurs and heel pain.


In some cases, surgery is required to relieve pain, but individuals generally find relief from non-surgical treatments.

As treatment, a podiatrist may recommend:

  • Rest to relieve pain temporarily

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen

  • Physical therapy that includes stretching exercises for the calf muscles

  • Custom orthotic devices to provide arch support

  • Cortisone injections to relieve inflammation

  • Weight loss if obesity is a contributing cause

Pain that persists for many months, impaired mobility, or heel spurs that fail to respond to non-surgical treatments may require surgical interventions such as removing the spur or release of the plantar fascia. For more information or assistance, contact companies like Collier Podiatry PA.