Heel spurs are a painful condition where bony growths form on the back of the heel. These growths occur on the calcaneus bone causing major heel pain. You can manage the symptoms of a heel spur with home treatments like ice packs, stretching, and shoe inserts; but if you’re wondering how to get rid of heel spurs completely, the answer requires surgery. Keep scrolling to learn ways to help manage the pain, prevent bone spurs from forming, and your surgery options.
Heels spurs and plantar fasciitis often go together. When the bone spur grows downward towards the bottom of the foot patients may experience inflammation across the arch. Treatment options focus on relieving the inflammation and providing pain relief. Here are the conservative treatments you can use at home.
Cold therapy is the use of ice packs to provide injury relief. Cold reduces swelling by minimizing blood flow to the area. It also reduces pain by interrupting the pain signal. Try placing an ice pack on your heel bone or wherever you are feeling pain. Use ice packs for 20 to 30 minute intervals and avoid placing them right on your skin.
Wearing the right shoes can make a huge difference in the health of your feet. Shoes that don’t fit well or are worn out can increase your chances of developing heel spurs. And don’t forget that running on hard surfaces can also increase your chances of heel spurs. When you’re shoe shopping look for shoes with thick soles and extra cushioning.
Every time you walk, you hit the ground with your heel. This places stress and tension on the fascia, causing tiny tears in the surrounding tissue resulting in foot pain. Wearing cushioned shoe inserts in your shoes can minimize the stress on the bottom of the heel and foot. These inserts will raise your heel while providing a softer landing. Custom orthotics can also be helpful for some people. You’ll want to talk to your doctor or podiatrist to determine which ones are best for you.
Incorporating stretching and exercises can be helpful in the management of heel spur pain. Stretching your calf and plantar fascia ligament can take the pressure off of your heel spur. The morning is often the best time to stretch those tight muscles.
Massage uses soft to firm pressure to release muscle tension and knots. It can be a useful treatment in the management of heel spurs by increasing blood flow to the area which can improve healing time. Provide gentle massage on your foot and calf, with gentle pressure, increasing pressure slowly as tolerated. Try using cold along with your massage for added relief. Don’t massage directly over any bony protrusions.
Taping with kinesiology tape or athletic tape can offload some of the pressure on your feet. Kinesiology tape works by increasing your proprioception (body awareness), improving lymphatic and blood flow. Athletic tape is different, in that it restricts movement and works more like a brace. You won’t want to completely restrict foot or ankle movement, so with heel spurs, kinesiology tape is likely a better fit.
Night splints are a simple, yet effective way to treat heel pain. When we sleep, our feet are pointed straight or down. This causes the plantar fascia to relax. A night splint is worn on your feet and keeps your feet flexed upward. This stretches the plantar fascia, preventing pain in the morning.
Over-the-counter pain drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen are anti-inflammatory medications. These medications will reduce pain and inflammation. Another medication, acetaminophen (Tylenol), can also reduce pain but does not have the same anti-inflammatory properties the other medications carry. These drugs have minimal side effects but you should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new drug.
When home remedies are not enough then it’s time to consider medical treatments. Talk to your podiatrist to get accurate medical advice on the right way to treat your heel spurs so that you can get back to all the activities you enjoy.
Physical therapists are trained healthcare professionals who treat a wide variety of conditions, including heel spurs. They will evaluate any underlying causes to determine the best course of action. This may include stretching, exercise, activity modification, and more. Physical therapists are wonderful resources to guide you through your injury recovery, so don’t hesitate to reach out to yours!
Cortisone is a strong steroid medication that can be directly injected into your plantar fascia. This will greatly reduce the pain and swelling associated with heel spurs. The one downside to cortisone injections is that they may not last long term and cannot be done multiple times. Talk to your doctor to determine if they are right for you.
When nonsurgical treatments haven’t provided you enough relief then it may be time to consider surgery. Your surgeon will likely have you do some initial testing with an x-ray or other diagnostic imaging to get a better visualization of your injury.
There are two types of surgery that can be done, removal of the heel spur or releasing the plantar fascia. With plantar fascia release, there is a risk of nerve damage. Recovery time will vary depending on the severity of your heel spur and type of surgery. Make sure to follow all your post-operative instructions to ensure you heal fast and safely.
Heels spurs are a painful foot condition that causes pain and swelling. Thankfully, home remedies like ice, splints, and stretching are generally successful. When the pain still lasts after home treatment then it’s probably time for medical intervention. Talk to your doctor if you think you have a heel spur to help guide you through your treatment process and to get you back on your feet in no time.
Sources:Heel Spur Products
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