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Why heel spurs are traction spurs after all

: Zwirner, J.; Singh, A.; Templer, F.; Ondruschka, B.; Hammer, N.

Fulltext ()

Scientific Reports 11 (2021), No.1, Art. 13291, 10 pp.
ISSN: 2045-2322
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IWU ()

It is unclear whether plantar and posterior heel spurs are truly pathological findings and whether they are stimulated by traction or compression forces. Previous histological investigations focused on either one of the two spur locations, thereby potentially overlooking common features that refer to a uniform developmental mechanism. In this study, 19 feet from 16 cadavers were X-ray scanned to preselect calcanei with either plantar or posterior spurs. Subsequently, seven plantar and posterior spurs were histologically assessed. Five spur-free Achilles tendon and three plantar fascia entheses served as controls. Plantar spurs were located either intra- or supra-fascial whereas all Achilles spurs were intra-fascial. Both spur types consistently presented a trabecular architecture without a particular pattern, fibrocartilage at the tendinous entheses and the orientation of the spur tips was in line with the course of the attached soft tissues. Spurs of both entities revealed tapered areas close to their bases with bulky tips. Achilles and plantar heel spurs seem to be non-pathological calcaneal exostoses, which are likely results of traction forces. Both spur types revealed commonalities such as their trabecular architecture or the tip direction in relation to the attached soft tissues. Morphologically, heel spurs seem poorly adapted to compressive loads.