Heel Spur Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Surgery is a foot condition that is created by calcium deposit causing a bony projection underneath the heel bone. A heel spur can extend forward between your heel bone and arch by as much as a half-inch.
According to reports, one out of 10 people has heel spurs, but only 1 out of 20 people with heel spur experience foot pain. Heel spurs don’t always cause pain and not all heel pains are as a result of heel spur.
Heel spurs often start underneath your heel and may eventually affect other parts of your foot. Heel spur may not be seen with the naked eye unless an X-Ray is used.
Causes of heel spur
The build-up of calcium deposits underneath the heel is the major cause of heel spur. This process usually occurs over a long period of time. Strains on the foot muscles and ligaments are often causes of heel spur.
- Heel spurs are most common among athletes who are always involved in running and jumping. Long-term muscle and ligament strain are common causes of heel spur. When excessive strain stresses the heel bone, it eventually causes heel spur.
- Heel spur doesn’t just suddenly appear; it develops over time. Early symptoms of heel pain that is not treated on time can cause heel spur.
- Walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces repetitively for a long period of time can also cause heel spur.
- Continuous and long-term wearing of poorly-fitted and worn-out shoes may also cause heel spur.
- Wearing flip-flops too often can also cause heel spur due to immediate contact of the heel with hard surface.
- Arthritis is another cause of heel spur. People with arthritis are prone to heel spur.
- Bruising of the heel or injury to the heel can also cause heel spur.
- Having flat feet or high arch also lead to heel spur.
- Individuals that are overweight exert a lot of pressure on the feet and heel. The excessive pressure on the heel could lead to heel spur.
- Walking gait issues – When you’re unable to walk the normal way, you may put excess strain on the heel which could lead to heel spur.
- Plantar fasciitis – Having a condition known as plantar fasciitis can increase your risk of developing heel spurs. When the plantar fascia is over-stretched continuously, leading to the tearing of the membrane covering the heel, it causes heel spur.
Symptoms of heel spurs
Some Heel Spur Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Surgery may cause no symptoms. Heel spurs are often associated with intermittent pain that increases when running, jogging, or walking. Some people feel a sharp pain at the bottom of the heel when they stand when they get up from bed in the morning. Heel spur pain is more felt when a person sits or lays down for a prolonged period of time and then stands up. The pain is felt more at the initial moment of standing up and then gradually reduces.
Other symptoms include:
- Swelling at the front of your heel
- Warmth at the affected area
- Visible protrusion of a small bony structure
Diagnosis of a heel spur
Heel spurs are often discovered only through X-rays and other foot tissue tests. You will most likely not see any changes in your heels or soft tissues with your ordinary eyes.
Heel spur requires medical assistance for diagnosis.
A podiatrist or orthopedist is the right specialist to see for proper medical assistance, diagnosis and treatment for heel spur.
During diagnosis, your podiatrist or orthopedist will first conduct a physical examination of your foot to check for signs of redness, tenderness, pain, or inflammation. You may also be asked to stand on your foot, take a walk for some time in order to check for signs of pain and abnormal walking posture.
Your podiatrist or orthopedist will then conduct an imaging test such as X-ray in order to be able to check for the availability of heel spur.
Heel spur treatment
Heel Spur Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Surgery are different treatment options for heel spur depending on the severity. If your case is not severe, you may only need to undergo lifestyle changes for treatment. However, if your case is a severe one, you will need more conventional treatments and medications. Extremely severe cases that do not respond to conventional treatments may require surgery.
Lifestyle changes include:
You may need to take some time off work and other activities to rest. Resting is a recommended treatment measure for heel spurs. Resting helps to alleviate acute pain and also prevent the condition from getting worse. If you are involved in activities or sports where you need to stand, walk, or run for a long period of time, you particularly need to rest for a while to help alleviate pain off your feet and heel.
Exercises and physical therapy
Engaging in stretching exercises and physical therapies are ways you can prevent long-term heel spur pain. Stretching the heel and the plantar fascia muscles help to relieve pain and pressure off your heel. If you don’t know how to do the stretching exercise and other physical therapies, ask your podiatrist to recommend a reliable physical therapist for you. Your physical therapist will show you how to perform helpful physical therapies.
Using cold compresses
Using cold compresses and applying ice packs for up to 15 minutes at a time can temporarily numb the area and relieve heel spur pain. Cold compression can also help reduce inflammation.
Shoe inserts and orthotics
Your podiatrist may recommend special shoe inserts, insoles or pad to use to relieve pain and aid easy movement. Orthotics help to support your arch and heel to relieve pain. You will also need to always put on the right-fitted shoes to alleviate pressure and strain.
The use of anti-inflammatory injections such as corticosteroid injections can be used to relieve severe pain. Anti-inflammatory injections can also help to reduce inflammation in the heel and feet.
Over-the-counter pain medications
Over-the-counter pain medications can be used to relieve heel pain. Over-the-counter pain medications include acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). If you are on blood thinners or have kidney or liver problems, taking over-the-counter pain medications may have some side effects. Inform your podiatrist before taking any over-the-counter medications.
Surgery is required when other conventional treatments and lifestyle changes fail to improve the condition of heel spur for a period of 9-12 months. More than 90% of individuals with heel spur experience improvements with conventional treatments and lifestyle changes; hence they don’t require surgery.
Surgery is required to restore mobility and relieve severe pain. Removal of the spur and release of the plantar fascia are some of the surgical procedures done for heel spur.
Before undergoing heel spur surgery, your doctor will first determine if you are an ideal candidate for the surgery. You will need to undergo pre-surgical tests or exams. You will also undergo imaging tests and blood flow tests to your feet.
After the surgical, it will take time for you to fully recover. You will need to observe post-surgical recovery processes to aid quick recovery. Post-surgical recovery processes will be recommended by your podiatrist. These processes include using compression, supportive gear, bandages, casts, surgical shoes, crutches and more. You will be required to rest and elevate your feet.
Preventing heel spur
Taking good care of your feet and following a healthy lifestyle can help prevent heel spur. Give adequate attention to your feet health and do not place excessive stress or pressure on your feet. Take a lot of rest and do not stand, walking, or running for a very long period of time.
Always wear well-fitted shoes that are short-absorbent with insoles and pads. Avoid shoes with high heels. Engage in regular stretching exercises and shed excess weight to take pressure off the feet.