Heel spurs are calcified areas on the heel. It’s a problem that can cause a lot of pain and problems when you try to move your foot.
These heel spurs can be caused by poor posture, wearing inappropriate or uncomfortable footwear, or anything else that alters the region of the heel. In today’s article we’ll tell you more about heel spurs, including what causes them and what treatments are available to you.
What you need to know about heel spurs
Pain is a signature characteristic of heel spurs, and the worse your heel becomes inflamed, the worse the pain becomes. It can even cause plantar fasciitis and discomfort that radiates throughout the foot to your toes.
Doctors use a simple x-ray to diagnose heel spurs.
You can usually recognize a heel spur on first glance, however, because they’re small bumps that are caused by a buildup of calcium on the heel.
Repetitive activities that affect your heel every day are the primary cause of this problem. Heel spurs are also associated with being overweight, having flat or very high arches, and problems with your Achilles tendon.
Continued or excessive stretching of the plantar fascia (the tissue that lines the muscles of your foot) can cause pain and trigger heel spurs. When you try to support your weight on your heels it is painful, and makes it impossible to remain standing for long periods of time.
According to the Spanish Association of Podiatric Sports, your body attempts to repair a wound when your fascia becomes disconnected from the muscle, and calcium is transported to the location through your bloodstream.
When the calcium is deposited more than it should be, heel spurs are the result.
The spur itself has no symptoms. What causes pain is the plantar fasciitis in the inside of your heel, but it may also be present in any of your five metatarsals (toes).
The feeling itself is like tiny puncture wounds that disappear when you’re not standing upright.
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How to prevent and treat heel spurs
To prevent a heel spur the first thing you need to do is avoid developing plantar fasciitis.
A doctor can perform a detailed analysis of your foot using a custom template. They’ll evaluate any overloads or imbalances when you step, in order to neutralize and optimize the way you support your body.
It’s important to remember that heel spurs can’t be cured overnight. The process takes time and you need to put in constant effort. Some of the more effective treatments to reduce your pain and inflammation in the meantime are:
Ice the area around your heel for 15 minutes at least twice a day. You can use a few ice cubes directly or a freezer bag.
Some people roll their feet on a cold can or frozen bottle.
Give your feet a break
It’s important that your feet get some rest. Try to elevate them every few minutes during the day and sleep with a pillow under your heel at night. This helps reduce the pressure on the heel so you can rest better.
You may also need to change some of your daily activities. If you exercise, for example, avoid high impact exercises or putting too much pressure on your feet.
You can choose activities like swimming, biking, or walking as alternatives.
Splints at night
This prescription splint is sometimes recommended by an orthopedist. It helps stretch your plantar fascia while you sleep. Because it’s in an “L” shape, it allows the foot to remain in the ideal position.
If your condition is extremely painful you can also use the splint during the day.
While it’s true that some types of physical activity can actually worsen a heel spur, there are certain techniques that can reduce the painful symptoms and strengthen the region at the same time.
- Stretches. Stand facing the wall and support yourself with your hands. Place one foot behind the other. Bend your front knee slightly. Push your hips toward the wall and hold that position for 10 seconds.
You’ll feel a tug on your Achilles tendon, but this is normal. Repeat 20 times on each side.
- Another exercise stretches the plantar fascia directly. Always do this in the morning before you get out of bed.
Cross one foot above the knee of your opposite leg. Use your fingers to gently push the foot toward you. Hold the position for 10 seconds before resting. Repeat 20 times on each side.
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First of all, it’s important to be sure you’re wearing the right size shoe. A good time to buy them is in the late afternoon or after work because that’s when your feet tend to be more swollen.
Try them on with the kind of socks that you normally wear every day. Walk around in the store with the shoes on, making sure that you can move your toes normally and that it doesn’t feel too loose or tight.
Try not to wear high heels unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you need to wear this type of shoe at work you can bring them in your bag and put them on when you get to the office. If you’re going out somewhere for lunch, bring a change of shoes that are more comfortable.
If you already have heel spurs it’s a good idea to also wear orthotics, special templates or customized products that are designed for each person to fit your own shoes.