Heel spurs

Displaying items by tag: Heel spurs

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Dr. Timothy Young discusses a different kind of bone spur in the foot: Enthesophytes, not your typical bone spur.


There can be confusion when talking about bone spurs in the foot. In general, when one thinks of an arthritic bone spur, that is often an osteophyte. However, there is a different kind of bone spur; this is an enthesophyte. The best way to think of an enthesophyte is calcification of the tendon or ligament at its attachment to the bone. A common example would be a heel spur related to plantar fasciitis or calcification of the Achilles tendon where it attaches to the back of the heel bone. It is important to know, however, that calcification of the Achilles tendon or a plantar calcaneal heel spur, in either case, may not cause any pain or symptoms at all. On the other hand, if there is associated inflammation or degenerative changes, there may be symptoms and pain.

Enthesopathy is another similar term describing this condition. Note that Enthesopathy often occurs in response to a mechanical condition, but there can be more of a systemic inflammatory condition also, such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis. Some of the autoimmune arthritic conditions may potentially be related to this condition.

Enthesophytes vs. Osteophytes: An Overview

Enthesophytes Defined: Enthesophytes are abnormal bony projections that occur at the attachment points of tendons or ligaments to the bone. These bony outgrowths are the result of the body's response to chronic stress and irritation in these connective tissues.

Osteophytes in Contrast: We have previously discussed osteophytes in our prior blog. Osteophytes are abnormal bony projections that form within joint spaces. Unlike enthesophytes, which are associated with the insertion points of tendons and ligaments, osteophytes develop as a response to joint degeneration and inflammation, often associated with conditions like osteoarthritis. The most common osteophytes in the foot and ankle could include the great toe joint, where bone spurs limit motion and cause an enlargement on the top of the joint. In the ankle, it is often the front of the ankle joint that develops osteophytes that can also limit ankle joint motion.

The Stress Response: Understanding Enthesophyte Formation

Chronic Tendon or Ligament Stress: Enthesophytes are born out of the repetitive stress and strain on tendons and ligaments. This stress can result from various factors, including overuse, improper biomechanics, or inflammatory conditions affecting the connective tissues.

Microtrauma and Inflammation: Microscopic damage to the tendon or ligament can lead to localized inflammation. As the body attempts to repair this damage, the bone responds by forming additional bony tissue at the insertion point – thus, an enthesophyte is born.

Common Locations: Enthesophytes can occur at multiple sites throughout the body. Common examples in the foot include the heel, with two common examples being Achilles enthesophyte and an enthesophyte associated with plantar fasciitis or the most typical heel spur.

Distinguishing Features: Enthesophytes vs. Osteophytes


Enthesophytes: Develop at the attachment sites of tendons or ligaments to bones.

Osteophytes: Form within joint spaces in response to joint degeneration.


Enthesophytes: Linked to chronic tendon or ligament stress and inflammation.

Osteophytes: Associated with joint degeneration and conditions like osteoarthritis.

Clinical Manifestations:

Enthesophytes: May cause localized pain at the attachment sites, especially during movement.

Osteophytes: Can impact joint movement, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

Managing Enthesophytes: It is important to understand that in many cases, it is really because of the enthesopathy that we are treating so for calcification of the Achilles tendon, we often are treating Achilles tendon problems. And for treating a plantar calcaneal spur, we often are treating plantar fasciitis as the primary problem, and the enthesopathy may be a secondary problem.

Conservative Measures:

Rest, activity modification, and gradual return to exercise.

Physical Therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage inflammation and pain.

Orthotic Support:

Proper footwear and orthotic devices to alleviate stress on affected areas.

Shockwave Therapy: This is extremely effective at treating Achilles tendon problems and calcific Achilles insertional tendinosis and plantar fasciitis.

Platelet Treatments: Concentrated platelets are injected into the damaged tendon or plantar fascia.

Surgical Procedure Interventions:

Tenex: This is a less invasive type of procedure that can remove damaged tendon and remove some of the calcified portions.

Traditional Surgery: In resistant cases, surgical direct treatment may be considered.


Enthesophytes may relate to the body's adaptation to the demands placed on tendons and ligaments. This condition may (or may not) cause discomfort, especially in the presence of chronic stress, and may limit exercise. Understanding their distinct nature and differentiating them from osteophytes is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management. If you suspect the presence of enthesophytes and experience persistent pain or discomfort, please contact our office for consultation or make an appointment online.

heel pain out of bed in the morning

Heel pain and heel spur syndrome are painful conditions that can affect everyday life and make walking and exercise miserable.  I see patients that have been suffering for years from this and have tried to live with it.  I encourage anybody with heel pain or bone spurs to seek help earlier as it is much easier to rectify this situation with early intervention. 

Heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis.  The plantar fascia is a large thick band of connective tissue that helps to hold up the arch.  It is activated when you walk or exercise to provide dynamic control of the foot.   It can become extremely painful with overuse and create a considerable cycle of pain.  Usually, the pain is worse in the morning, then gets a little better as the day goes on but returns anytime you sit down or rest.  Currently there are many great treatment options for fasciitis, however the underlying cause needs to be identified. 

Heel spur syndrome often occurs with plantar fasciitis.  This is when a bone spur develops on the heel bone or calcaneus.  It is often on the site where the plantar fascia attaches and can be a result of long-term tension from the fascia.  It can be difficult to determine if it is the bone spur or the fascia that is inflamed.  Both can be present at the same time and often testing is needed to differentiate the sources of pain. 

I understand that heel pain can be life altering and am here to help. 

If you have heel pain, and want to get back to enjoying your life, make an appointment with me today at 425-391-8666 or book an appointment online

Dr. Brandon Nelson
Issaquah Foot and Ankle Specialists

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