Heel Spurs – What Are They and How Do We Treat Them
What exactly are heel spurs?
A heel spur is a bony protrusion that emerges from the heel bone (also known as the calcaneus). They are often caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects your toes to your heel bone. The plantar fascia absorbs the pressure we place on our feet as we walk, run, and carry out other activities during the day. When the plantar fascia overworks, the spot on the heel bone where it attaches can become irritated and produce a heel spur.
What are some of the risk factors for developing heel spurs?
Foot misalignments are one of the main contributors to developing a heel spur. For example, feet that overpronate (roll inwards) have arches that collapse under the weight. This causes the feet to flatten and the plantar fascia to elongate excessively, pulling on its attachment point to the heel bone. Over time, with repeated stretching, plantar fasciitis may develop.
How do I know if I have heel spurs?
Heel spurs are not always painful; a deeper look into the anatomy is needed for a diagnosis. Podiatrists use X-rays to image the bones of the feet and to determine whether you have heel spurs accurately.
What should I do to treat heel spurs?
Many patients will improve within a year without surgical interventions. Here are some things you can do to treat your heel spur from home.
- Get some rest: Rest is critical to helping your plantar fascia heal. It is needed to reduce inflammation and foot pain. Your doctor or healthcare provider may recommend a temporary decrease in your daily activities (e.g., sports), at least until your symptoms improve. Ice packs can also be used to ease heel spur pain.
- Employ orthotic insoles: As you walk, the bottom of the heel is constantly striking the ground. Orthotic insoles can provide an extra bit of cushioning against hard surfaces. They are also great at supporting the arches and preventing overpronation of the feet.
- Stretch it out: Tight muscles in your feet and calves can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. Exercise and physical therapy aimed at stretching those muscles out can be one of the most effective ways to relieve the pain that comes with this condition.
- Wear the right shoes: Shoes with a slightly raised heel and soft midsole help take some pressure off of the ankle and calf muscles.
- Take medications if needed: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, reduce pain and inflammation. They can be used to cope with the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and chronic heel pain.
Have some more questions about heel spurs and foot health?
If the above treatments fail to adequately treat your heel spurs, we recommend reaching out to a healthcare provider who can conduct a thorough assessment of your condition and provide accurate medical advice. You can also reach out to us at docpods.com/au for more information!