Heel Spurs - What is it, Causes, and Treatment.

Overview

 

As the name suggests, a heel spur is a bony outgrowth from the heel bone, medically known as the calcaneus.

Heel spurs are calcium deposits on the back of the calcaneus (dorsal heel spur) or under the sole extending toward the foot’s arch (plantar heel spur). A heel spur can be pointy, hooked, or shelf-like and half an inch long.

Heel spurs affect nearly 15 percent of the general population. In addition, research suggests that women get heel spurs more often than men.

 

Heel Spur Symptoms 

 

  • Heel spurs can cause sharp pain in the heel as if someone were standing on a knife. However, many people do not experience pain at all, and not all heel pain is related to heel spurs, as people usually assume.
  • dull ache
  • tenderness
  • swelling
  • redness
  • small protrusion from the heel bone.

    In addition, the heel may feel warm to the touch, and the symptoms may extend to the arch. Besides the physical examination, a heel spur is usually diagnosed with an X-ray.

     

     

    What Causes A Heel Spur? 

     

    Heel spurs usually develop over a long time due to the excessive stress on the muscles and ligaments at the bottom of the foot.

    With age or undue stress, the soft tissue and padding of the foot deteriorate, and the risk of foot conditions such as heel spurs and plantar fasciitis increases.

    Furthermore, poorly-fitted shoes and stress repetitive stress from walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces also increases your risk for heel spurs.

     

    While a heel spur may develop independently, other disorders also increase your risk of getting this condition. For example:

    • 50 percent of people with plantar fasciitis
    • inflammation of the ligamentous band of connective tissue joining the heel to the toes at the front.
    • obesity
    • older age
    • arthritis
    • anatomical problems of the foot, and other causes of heel pain also lead you to develop a heel spur.

     Heel Spur Treatment:

     

    Treatment for a heel spur involves:

     

    • home remedies and prescription medications
    • rest
    • a cold compress
    • over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

     

    Since isolated heel spurs that cause pain are rare, physical therapy, especially stretching exercises like calf stretching against the wall and tennis ball foot rolls, can also prove beneficial.

    It helps you work out sore muscles and tight ligaments, reduces pain and inflammation, and speeds up recovery.

    Furthermore, the podiatrist (foot doctor) will recommend customized shoes and shoe inserts (known as orthotics) that take pressure off the heel and prevent flare-ups.

     

    A shoe insole should be worn in addition to proper footwear to reduce further wear and tear of the foot.

     

    You can find prescription-based shoes or shoe insoles from your nearest pharmacy or order them online.

     

    In severe cases, your doctor may recommend steroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation.

     

    Surgery is usually the last resort to get rid of this condition and often involves removing the heel spur. Again, surgery for heel spur alone is rarely performed.

     

    However, surgery may be necessary since heel spurs often co-exist with plantar fasciitis or other medical conditions.

     

    Talk to your doctor for more information, and in the meantime, start using home remedies such as icing and wearing orthotic shoes and shoe inserts!

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