All about Heel Spurs
Heel Spurs

Heel Spurs

Heels spurs are often confused with plantar fasciitis because heel spurs are common in patients who suffer from plantar fasciitis. However, a heel spur can occur by itself. A heel spur is a pointy or hook-shaped bone growth that stems from the calcaneus (heel bone). They typically form when the plantar fascia (the tissue that connects the heel to your toes) is repetitively pulled away from the heel bone. Heel spurs can cause pain with every foot movement, making it a very uncomfortable condition.

What Causes Heel Spurs

As mentioned before, heel spurs are commonly see in patients who have plantar fasciitis and also Achilles tendonitis. Middle-aged men and women are most often seen with heel spurs, though it can occur in individuals of all ages. Athletes are also susceptible to this condition because of all the stress that physical activity places on the feet. Individuals with an abnormal gait (walking style) or with improper foot structure (such as flat foot or high arches) are also at risk for heel spurs.

Symptoms of Heel Spurs

The most obvious symptom of heel spurs is pain and tenderness in the heel and bottom of the foot. Like plantar fasciitis, the pain may be more pronounced in the morning and can also feel worse when applying pressure to the ball of the foot. An X-ray will typically reveal any heel spurs in the foot.

Treatment for Heel Spurs

As with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation. Often the first course of treatment for heel spurs is to bring down the inflammation. This is done by avoiding activities that cause pain, resting, applying ice, and taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

When returning to mild activity, make sure that you have proper heel pain supports. Heel cups, such as the ProCare Tuli's Heel Cups, can help absorb shock and reduce pain from the heel spur. You may need to replace shoes with proper footwear, and in some cases orthotics will be recommended. As you continue activity, your physician may suggest physical therapy so you can learn heel and calf stretches that alleviate pain.

In extreme cases, a physician may use a cortisone injection to decrease pain in the heel. The last resort for treatment is surgery to remove the heel spur, but typically this is not recommended until non-surgical treatments are applied.