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Heel Spur

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Updated December 23, 2004

Definition: Heel spurs are spikes of bone seen on the x-ray of the foot. The heel spur is seen under the heel bone and seems to be seen more commonly in patients who have plantar fasciitis. About 70% of patients who have plantar fasciitis are seen on x-ray to have a heel spur.

However, heel spurs are also seen in patients without plantar fasciitis; about 50% of middle aged adults have at least a small heel spur seen on the x-ray of their foot. Furthermore, the heel spur is actually located in a place different from the fibrous tissue that is inflamed in plantar fasciitis. The heel spur is not located at the insertion of the plantar fascia, as was once thought. Studies of cadavers have shown that the heel spur is actually located where the short flexor muscles of the toes insert on the heel bone. Therefore, heel spurs themselves are probably not that important, rather the plantar fasciitis is the more important issue.

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