La Trobe
2008_Menz et al - Plantar calcaneal spurs_J Foot Ankle Res.pdf (459.82 kB)
Download file

Plantar calcaneal spurs in older people: longitudinal traction or vertical compression?

Download (459.82 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-03-08, 02:33 authored by Hylton MenzHylton Menz, Gerard Zammit, Karl LandorfKarl Landorf, Shannon MunteanuShannon Munteanu
Background: Plantar calcaneal spurs are common, however their pathophysiology is poorly understood. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence and correlates of plantar calcaneal spurs in a large sample of older people.Methods: Weightbearing lateral foot radiographs of 216 people (140 women and 76 men) aged 62 to 94 years (mean age 75.9, SD 6.6) were examined for plantar calcaneal and Achilles tendon spurs. Associations between the presence of spurs and sex, body mass index, radiographic measures of foot posture, self-reported co-morbidities and current or previous heel pain were then explored.Results: Of the 216 participants, 119 (55%) had at least one plantar calcaneal spur and 103 (48%) had at least one Achilles tendon spur. Those with plantar calcaneal spurs were more likely to have Achilles tendon spurs (odds ratio [OR] = 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2 to 3.5). Prevalence of spurs did not differ according to sex. Participants with plantar calcaneal spurs were more likely to be obese (OR = 7.9, 95% CI 3.6 to 17.0), report osteoarthritis (OR = 2.6, 95% CI 1.6 to 4.8) and have current or previous heel pain (OR = 4.6, 95% CI 2.3 to 9.4). No relationship was found between the presence of calcaneal spurs and radiographic measures of foot posture.Conclusion: Calcaneal spurs are common in older men and women and are related to obesity, osteoarthritis and current or previous heel pain, but are unrelated to radiographic measurements of foot posture. These findings support the theory that plantar calcaneal spurs may be an adaptive response to vertical compression of the heel rather than longitudinal traction at the calcaneal enthesis.


This study was funded by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Arthritis Foundation of Australia and the Australian Association of Gerontology. HBM is currently a National Health and Medical Research Council fellow (Clinical Career Development Award, ID: 433049).


Publication Date



Journal of Foot and Ankle Research





Article Number





BioMed Central Ltd, part of Springer Nature



Rights Statement

© 2008 Menz et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Usage metrics