A heel spur can cause pain and discomfort, but sometimes there may be no obvious symptoms at all. In this guide, we will discuss what a heel spur is, what causes it, and how to treat it. Many non-surgical treatments are available, most of which you can perform from the comfort of your home. However, if your bone spur does not respond well to heel spur treatment, surgery may be the best option. Read on to find all the information you need to get back on your feet.
What is a Heel Spur?
A heel spur is a calcium deposit that causes a pointed, bony outgrowth on the heel of the foot. The technical term for the bone is the calcaneus bone, and for that reason you may also hear this condition referred to as a calcaneal heel spur. You may also hear the condition referred to as heel spur syndrome.
Bone spurs on the heel usually occur underneath the heel of the foot and can cause pain in the area. A bone spur on the back of the heel is generally associated with inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
Heel Spur and Plantar Fasciitis
Spurs under the sole of the heel are often associated with plantar fasciitis. Both heel spurs and plantar fasciitis have similar risk factors and causes. The treatments for heel spur and plantar fasciitis are also similar.
Plantar fasciitis refers to the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. It can lead to pain and stiffness in the foot.
In some cases of heel pain, it may be unclear whether the pain is caused by a heel spur or plantar fasciitis. An X-ray will determine whether a heel spur is present.
What Causes Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are caused by excessive strain on the soft tissues in your heel, usually over a prolonged period of time. In some cases, there may be an underlying cause, such as arthritis.
Stretching of or strain to the plantar fascia could also cause a heel spur. In this sense, plantar fasciitis may cause a heel spur.
Common causes of heel spurs include:
- Wear and tear of soft tissues due to excessive strain
- A strained or stretched plantar fascia
- Poorly fitting shoes
- Shoes that lack support for the foot and heel
Who is at Risk of Developing Heel Spurs?
Certain groups of people, or people who engage in certain activities, are at increased risk of developing a heel spur. These include:
- Older adults and seniors
- People who are overweight
- Runners and joggers (especially if running on a hard surface)
- Athletes and active individuals
- People who walk with an uneven gait
- People who have flat feet or high arches
Heel Spur Symptoms
Though some people with heel spurs experience pain, others notice no symptoms at all. A painful heel spur can be distressing, as it affects our ability to walk or put pressure on our feet. Tenderness in the heel is another potential sign of a heel spur.
The most common symptoms of heel spurs are:
- Pain on the bottom of the heel
- Pain at the back of the heel
- Tenderness around the heel
- Chronic pain or intermittent pain
- Sharp pain when standing up
Diagnosing a Heel Spur
Speak to your doctor if you experience chronic or intermittent pain in your heel. He or she will ask questions about your health and medical history, check the foot and carry out a heel spur X-ray to provide a clear heel spur picture and a definitive diagnosis.
If a heel spur is ruled out but you are still experiencing pain, your doctor will advise you on other potential causes, including plantar fasciitis.
Heel Spur Treatment
There are several heel spur treatment natural remedies. If you notice pain, tenderness, or inflammation in your heel, consider when and how often the pain is arising.
If it occurs after or during particular activities, such as running, or is worse when you wear a particular pair of shoes, you may have identified what is causing or exacerbating the problem. Be sure you are stretching properly and giving yourself adequate time to warm up before exercise, and always wear properly fitting, supportive shoes.
Resting the foot and heel is crucial to avoid increasing the pain. This is particularly important after long periods of standing or exercise. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be taken to provide heel spur pain relief. Always discuss any new medications with your doctor.
Some of the best treatments for heel spurs are:
- Taking anti-inflammatory painkillers
- Applying an ice pack to the heel
- Resting the heel, particularly after exercise
- Gentle stretching and physical therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
- Investing in a comfortable and supportive pair of shoes
- Investing in orthotic shoe inserts and insoles
If the above heel spur remedies do not prove effective, your doctor will provide more options, including surgery or heel spur exercises.
Shoes for Heel Spurs
The best shoes for heel spurs fit the following criteria:
- Perfectly fit your feet
- Provide adequate support at the back of the foot
- Are comfortable yet supportive for the heel and sole
Of course, we each have specific needs and preferences. Take your time to find the perfect pair of shoes for you. You may wish to invest in different shoes for different purposes—such as walking boots, daily shoes, and running shoes.
Orthotic Shoe Inserts and Insoles
Additional heel spur support is available in the form of orthotic shoe inserts and insoles. These can be added to your shoe to provide support and comfort to help relieve heel spur pain.
Insoles for Heel Spurs
Insoles are a smart way to make the shoes you already own more comfortable and supportive. ( See Product )
A full-length insole can replace replace your shoes’ original insoles to provide cushioning and support for the length of your foot.
Inserts for Heel Spurs
Gel heel cups treat heel spurs by absorbing the shock on your feet with each step. ( See Product)
Inserts cover only part of the shoe’s sole. They often come in 3/4 length or 1/2 length. A gel heel cup is a good option for absorbing shock and providing support for heel spurs.
Heel Spur Surgery
If non-surgical treatment has not cured your heel spur, your doctor may suggest surgery. Take precautions before and after your surgery, including resting and icing the heel. Pay close attention to any steps your doctor or surgeon recommends.
One of the most common surgeries involves the removal of the heel spur. Surgery may also release the plantar fascia muscle.
Surgery is a last resort and is not usually required. Discuss all the risks and potential rewards with your doctor, and be sure to invest in a good post-op shoe to protect your fragile foot after surgery.
After surgery, protect your fragile foot with a post-op boot. ( See Product )
Treatment for Heel Spur and Plantar Fasciitis
The treatments for heel spur and plantar fasciitis tend to be similar. Always to rest the heel and foot, apply an ice pack, and take anti-inflammatory painkillers if necessary. Gently stretch the calf and plantar fascia to treat both conditions.
Whether you are dealing with plantar fasciitis or a heel spur, invest in a comfortable pair of shoes and good insoles.
Insoles specifically designed for plantar fasciitis treat the condition more effectively. ( See Product )
To relieve nighttime pain caused by plantar fasciitis, try a pair of plantar fasciitis socks.
Plantar fasciitis socks help you stretch the tendons and ligaments to reduce pain. ( See Product )
Products that Help Reduce Heel Spur
Preventing Heel Spurs
A number of simple precautions can help you avoid developing heel spurs in the first place. Follow these tips to prevent heel spurs.
- Maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting additional stress on your feet.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit your feet.
- Invest in insoles or inserts for further support.
- Stretch regularly, particularly if playing sports or exercising.
- Warm up thoroughly before activity.
- Seek treatment for any inflammatory disease.
Recovering from a Heel Spur
Heel pain can keep us from daily life and the activities we love, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Simple, at-home treatments and remedies are available to treat your heel spur. Start today and you’ll soon be recovered from heel pain and heel spurs. Don’t forget to discuss any questions and symptoms with your doctor and find a good pair of insoles to treat heel spurs and prevent future injury.