What is a Heel Spur?
Feeling pain under your heel? It might probably be a heel spur. A heel spur, also known as “heel spur syndrome”, is a bone-like protrusion below the heel bone, which on X-ray can sometimes be seen to extend half an inch forward, that is caused by a calcium deposit.
Heel spurs, though not known to cause pain, can sometimes hurt. They are commonly associated with another foot-related condition known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the fibrous band of connective tissue running from the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel to the ball of the foot.
Causes of Heel Spurs
A heel spur is a bone-like protrusion below the heel bone that is caused by a calcium deposit. This process takes usually several months. The common causes of heels spurs are as follows:
- Straining the muscles and ligaments of the foot
- Stressing out the plantar fascia
- Repeated damage of the covering membrane of the heel bone
Athletes who participate in sports that require constant running and/or jumping are the usual victims of heel spurs.
Heel spurs can be caused by:
- Excess stress placed on the heel bone and other surrounding ligaments and nerves due to walking gait abnormalities
- Jogging and/or running, especially on unstable and hard surfaces
- Shoes that are too tight and are lacking in the needed arch support
- Being obese or overweight
Some other risk factors that are related to plantar fasciitis are:
- Deterioration of the heel’s protective layer and the flexibility of the plantar fascia
- Standing for most of the day
- Flat feet
- High arches
Heel Spur Symptoms
There are usually no symptoms of heel spurs other than you feel pain at the bottom of your feet when the area where the spur is located gets inflamed.
This is not caused by the spur itself. Rather, it is caused by the injury of the soft-tissue around it. The pain usually gets worse when you walk around, jog, or run.
Those who suffer from heel spurs and plantar fasciitis often experience the same thing; a sharp, stabbing pain on the bottom of their feet, usually when they get up from bed in the morning.
From there, it usually boils down to a mild ache. They say that the sharp pain returns after they stand up from sitting down for a long time.
Non-Surgical Ways to treat Heel Spurs
Non-surgical ways to treat heel spurs and other similar conditions may include exercise, anti-inflammatory medicines, custom-made orthotics, and cortisone injections.
Resting may not do that well when it comes to relieving the pain caused by heel spurs and other similar conditions. When you rest for a long period (a night’s sleep) the pain will usually be worse, as the plantar fascia is suddenly elongated, stretching and pulling on the heel.
The pain usually goes away after you walk around. However, walking too much or walking after a long resting period may make the pain come back.
Consult your doctor should the pain you are experiencing prolong to up to a month. They might recommend other treatments such as the following:
- Stretching exercises – Stretching has been proven to provide pain relief for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Foot flexing, Calf stretching on a step, toe towel grab, wall calf stretches, wall squat calf stretch, band calf stretch, golf ball roll, and walking the dog are some of the great stretches for heel spurs and plantar fasciitis
- Wearing the right shoes- You should go for shoes that are not too tight, but at the same time not too loose. Small shoes may continue to irritate your feet. At the same time, wearing loose shoes means accommodating the bad fit in a dysfunctional way and can lead to foot problems as well as blisters from your feet sliding around.
- Using a tape or strap for the stressed muscles and tendons- Tapes have been proven to reduce pain and stimulate faster recovery. Kinesiology tape is a great option for taping your feet, especially if you are planning on being active.
Almost, if not, all that suffer from conditions such as heel spurs don’t need surgery, as physical therapy is enough to get the job done. The physical therapist will usually tell you to lay off on the activities that might cause further stress on your affected foot. Specific stretches will provide relief for the surrounding tissues of the bone. The therapist will also advise you to rest and put ice on the affected area.
Night splints are braces that are used to treat foot conditions such as Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis.
Night splints are designed to place your foot at a 90-degree angle, holding your toes upward and keeping your plantar fascia fully stretched instead of shortening it.
Despite being bulky, they work very well. Wearing night splints will take away most of the pain you usually feel in the morning from your condition. You can stop wearing them when you are no longer feeling any pain or discomfort in the affected foot.
Heel pain can also be relieved with medication. Over-the-counter meds such as acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen are very good options. Corticosteroid injections are also a possible option for relieving inflammation.
Surgery for Heel Spurs
If all other conservative treatments do not work, surgery may be your final option.
Surgery isn’t usually needed, as 90 percent of those that suffer from this condition are treated successfully with non-surgical methods.
However, if the non-surgical options don’t show any result after 9 to 12 months, surgery might be needed to get rid of the pain and restore mobility. Here are some of the surgical techniques:
Release of the plantar fascia
Surgery to release the plantar fascia involves the cutting of a part of the plantar fascia to release tension and get rid of the inflammation of the said ligament. Local anesthetics are used in the procedure. However, there are risks to this procedure, such as instability, foot cramps, tendinitis, and stress fracture.
Removal of a heel spur
There are needed tests or exams before surgery to see the optimal candidates. After this surgery, it is very important to heed post-surgical instructions such as resting, putting ice on the area, elevating the affected foot, as well as when to put weight on the foot.
Splints, casts, crutches, canes, and/or surgical shoes are also possible things that can be used after the surgery to ensure proper recovery. However, the surgery poses several complications such as recurring pain, permanent numbness on the affected area, nerve pain, scarring, and infection.
How To Prevent Heel Spurs
As all the experts say, prevention is better than cure. You can save yourself from the agony of heel spurs by preventing them from even occurring.
One great way to do this is by wearing great-fitting shoes with specialized insoles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters.
Wearing the appropriate shoe for each physical activity, doing proper stretching and warm-up before said activities, and pacing yourself in doing the activity.
Comfy Centre Shoe Insoles
Comfy Centre Shoe insoles are designed to provide relief from pain as well as support your feet whatever you may be doing. The benefits of having these insoles are the following:
- Help relieve existing foot disorders - If you have already got existing pain and discomfort caused by foot disorder, these insoles are perfect for you.
- Prevent foot conditions from developing – The insole is designed to absorb pressure from activities be it just standing around or the more rigorous ones such as running or jumping.This allows you to stay active without worrying about the conditions your feet might face
- Help improve foot flexibility – The insoles are also a big help when it comes to the flexibility of your foot. Wearing the insoles will give support to the fascia. This will ensure that your feet are flexible and is well supported
- Comfort – Having the insole is just a fluffy pillow for your feet. It provides comfort for it. You can move around without feeling as much pain as you would normally have. You will not have to cancel any plans after work because there will not be any discomfort bothering you.