This condition is caused by a calcification of the conjuncture between the tendons and the Calcaneal (heel) bone of the foot.
It makes normal heel support difficult, creating aches and pains associated with inflammation.
There are two types of heel spurs: posterior inferior spurs (underneath the heel), which is the most common, and posterior superior spurs (where the Achilles tendon attaches).
What causes heel spurs?
This is caused by excessive stretching of the plantar fascia (a band of thick tissues that cover the bones at the base of the foot), causing inflammation known as plantar fasciitis.
The body accumulates calcium in injured areas with the intent of healing tissues. As a result, this bony prominence grows progressively.
This situation can be caused by obesity, poor posture, excessive athletic strain, use of improper footwear, overloading the tendon, and standing for long periods of time.
Congenital spurs can appear as well, which irritate tendons and cause inflammation.
Plantar fascia inflammation has been related to the development of the spur, but you can also have fasciitis without the spurs.
Plantar fasciitis causes an intense pain in the sole of the foot, and radiates toward the heel.
How are spurs diagnosed?
Spurs can show up on X-rays, which will show a pointed protuberance pointing towards the toes, measuring between one and five millimeters.
Some people have this condition without being symptomatic.
What are the symptoms?
First, let’s talk about the inflammatory pain caused by overloading the tendons. Pain in the morning shows up after the first steps of the day. This feels like stepping on a nail in the affected heel. The pain generally subsides with rest, but returns once using the foot for support again. Carrying heavy objects can worsen the symptoms.
- Using orthopedic insoles (inserts for spurs) improves foot support and alleviates tension in the tendons.
- Physical therapy: use of heat or cold with means to alleviate pain.
- Stretching exercises
- Local ultrasound treatments
- Shock waves: High energy ultrasound waves can dissolve calcification
- Analgesics on the area with direct pain
- Surgery is performed in worst-case scenarios, when no other treatment has manage to produce results.
Natural remedies to relieve spur symptoms
- Verbena: cook a handful of these leaves in water for 15 minutes. Moisten a few compresses and apply to the painful area.
- Wormwood: apply moist compresses to the affected areas
- Parietaria: compress moistened with an infusion of a handful of dried leaves with one liter of water.
- Echinacea: possess anti-inflammatory properties. Prepare an infusion with one Tbsp. of the dried plant in one cup of water. Drink a few cups a day.
Of course, the best way to prevent heel spurs is to avoid their causes, like obesity, excessive efforts, bad positions, improper footwear, among others.
You can also prevent them with your diet, consuming the following foods:
Foods that contain magnesium, silicon, and zinc help keep our muscles and tendons healthy.
- Magnesium: mollusks, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, grains, legumes, and dry fruit are all sources of this mineral.
- Silicon: whole oat flour, parsley, nettle (consult a naturopath regarding ways to consume this), beets, green beans.
- Zinc: peanuts, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, sesame butter and flour, wheat sprouts, oysters.
- Omega-3’s help reduce inflammation: found in oily fish, fish oil, linseed, canola, and walnut oil. Also found in produce such as: cucumbers, strawberries, spinach, soy, walnuts, almonds, and lettuce.
Pineapple and papaya are two fruits that can help, due to their high bromelain content, which is anti-inflammatory. It is recommended to eat them together to increase effects.
A healthy and balanced diet will help us prevent conditions or diseases, and in this case, heel spurs.