Think about all the activities you do during the course of the day. Now think about how you would perform those activities without your feet. We tend to take our feet for granted until something goes wrong. One of the most annoying and potentially painful foot disorders is the heel spur.
Playing sports, walking, standing for long periods of time and many job requirements put incredible strain on your feet. Interestingly enough, for every mile you walk, 60 tons of pressure is exerted on your foot. When your feet are over-stressed, heel spurs can develop.
What is a heel spur?
A heel spur is a deposit of calcium on the heel bone. This calcification takes the form of a bony protrusion, which can cause considerable pain when standing and walking.
This foot problem is closely related to plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the band of fibrous tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes over-stressed. It pulls away from the heel and causes the calcium deposits to form. For this reason, treating a heel spur involves treating the plantar fascia as well.
What causes heel spurs to form?
Here are some facts explaining heel spur formation:
- Bone spurs can occur all over the body including the spine, shoulders, hands, hips and feet. The feet are a common place to find them.
- A heel spur happens when the body tries to mend itself. Building extra bone is one way your body tries to correct a weakness.
- Wearing shoes that are too tight in the heel can cause bone spurs. More women than men get heel spurs because of the kinds of shoes they wear.
- Athletes who stress their feet and legs routinely are also prone to heel spurs.
- Being overweight can also indirectly cause heel spurs by over-exerting the plantar fascia.
- Some heel spurs are caused by the aging process, in which the cartilage covering the ends of bones wears away. This process can lead to pain, swelling and spur formation.
- Stress-related problems with the plantar fascia frequently lead to heel spurs.
What should I do if I think I have a heel spur?
Whenever you have heel pain, you should consult a doctor. That way you know from the start what you are dealing with. If you live in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, the foot specialists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates can quickly diagnose your problem and begin proper treatment.
How are heel spurs treated?
There are many ways to treat heel spurs. Some remedies you can even do at home once a podiatrist shows you how. Heel spur treatment is very similar to treatment of plantar fasciitis. Here are a few of the most common treatments:
- First, your doctor will assess which activities are causing your symptoms and suggest rest and time off from these activities.
- Ice packs are used to control pain and reduce symptoms.
- Certain exercises and stretches help you to feel relief quickly.
- Medications that reduce inflammation and decrease pain are also used.
- Sometimes cortisone injections are given.
- Often special shoe orthotics can help to take the pressure off of the plantar fascia and reduce symptoms.
- Night splints that keep your heel stretched are sometimes recommended.
- Rarely, surgery is an option.
- A new treatment called extracorporeal shock wave therapy is being studied.
Get help for your heel spurs now.
Don’t put off getting medical attention for your heel spurs. On average, the pain of an untreated spur can last as long as a year or more, while people who seek help may be able to reduce that time considerably.