Heel Spurs: Causes and Treatment

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Heel pain is a common condition for many people. Often times, heel pain is the result of a heel spur. Heel spurs result from a buildup of calcium deposits that form between the arch and bone of your heel. Usually, heel spurs begin collecting at the front of your heel and eventually spread to other parts of your foot.

Normal heel spurs measure about a quarter-inch in length, though detecting a heel spur can prove challenging. Why? Well, heel spurs don’t always cause pain. Moreover, heel spurs don’t cause all types of heel pain. That’s why it’s important to monitor any existing heel pain and visit your doctor if you think you may have heel spurs. Proper diagnosis and treatment are key to helping your condition get better and alleviating your pain.

Causes of Heel Spurs

Heel spurs develop over time as your muscles and ligaments become strained. Then, the soft tissues in your heel begin to wear down, making room for heel spurs to develop. Essentially, they’re caused by repetitive stress from walking and running to jumping and standing for long periods of time. Wearing uncomfortable shoes that don’t properly support your feet may also cause heel spurs.

Other conditions that may result in heel spurs include the following:

Symptoms of Heel Spurs

If you have heel spurs, you may experience symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and pain near the front of your heel. Additionally, the painful area may also feel warm and you may notice a bony protrusion sticking out from your foot. However, in some cases, heel spurs may not present any symptoms.

Diagnosis of Heel Spurs 

Typically, heel spurs are difficult to diagnose from the comfort of your home and oftentimes require X-rays and other imaging tests for your orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist to detect. The difficulty to diagnose heel spurs stems from many different heel and foot problems sharing similar symptoms.

Treatment of Heel Spurs 

If you’re diagnosed with heel spurs, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • Cold Compresses: Applying cold compresses to the affected area after walking or exercising may help alleviate any pain or inflammation.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication Injections: These injections may help alleviate inflammation and pain. Doctors usually inject this medication into the arch or heel of your foot.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Medications: Medications such as Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and others can help manage pain from heel spurs.
  • Physical Therapy: Oftentimes physical therapy can do wonders at managing and pain relayed to existing heel spurs.
  • Orthotic Shoe Inserts: Inserts such as these help improve arch support.

Prognosis of Heel Spurs

With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can manage pain, discomfort, and inflammation related to heel spurs. If you’re experiencing heel spurs, simple lifestyle changes may help alleviate symptoms, including using shoe inserts, wearing proper footwear, and maintaining a healthy weight. Pain medications and physical therapy are also beneficial treatment options to help you manage your heel spurs.