What is a heel spur?
posted: Oct. 20, 2020.
What is a heel spur?
Pain in the heel can have several causes. One common cause is a heel spur. A heel spur involves a calcium growth or deposit that forms between your heel and the arch of your foot. Although it can affect other areas of the foot, it typically occurs underneath the heel. The bony deposits may be very small and not even seen with the naked eye, or they can grow to about a half-inch or slightly bigger.
Heel spur symptoms
Heel spurs don’t always cause symptoms. A heel spur may be diagnosed incidentally when having tests for another foot condition. But in other cases, heel spurs can lead to the following symptoms:
- Heel pain
- Swelling in the front of the heel
- Pain may spread to the arch
What causes heel spurs?
Heel spurs usually do not occur suddenly. Instead, they develop gradually over time. The most common cause is repetitive stress from high impact activities, such as running or jumping. Wearing shoes that do not fit well or support your foot may also eventually lead to heel spurs.
Although anyone can develop the condition, certain factors may increase your risk, including:
- Being overweight
- Having arthritis
- Problems with the feet that leads to an abnormal gait
- Wearing flip flops frequently
- Having plantar fasciitis
Treatment for heel spurs
Treatment for a heel spur is aimed at decreasing symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, you will not need treatment. Treatment, except for surgery, does not remove the calcium deposits. The deposits do not dissolve or go away unless surgically removed.
But treatment may decrease pain and improve functioning. Treatment may include:
Rest: You may have to stop certain activities that are making the pain worse, such as running. If possible, refrain from the activity causing discomfort until the pain is gone.
Apply a cold compress: Applying ice or a cold compress a few times a day can help reduce inflammation.
Take nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications: Over the counter pain relievers may decrease pain and inflammation. Keep in mind, even over the counter medications can have side effects, so use with caution.
Steroid injections: If pain persists, steroid injections may be used to decrease inflammation and pain. Steroid injections may keep pain at bay for several months.
Shoe inserts: Shoe inserts can help if you need better arch support or have other foot problems that may have led to heel spurs. Wearing cushioned athletic shoes may also help relieve pressure on the heel.
Stretches: Your foot specialist may recommend physical therapy to learn stretches. Stretching the plantar fascia, along with the heel and calf, may be helpful.
Shockwave and Laser: Shockwave and Laser uses soundwaves and light to relieve inflammation at the heel without surgery or medications. Contact your podiatrist if you are a candidate.
Surgery: Surgery is a last resort to treat heel spurs if less invasive treatment did not work. Surgery is usually only performed if the pain is severe or interfering with everyday activities. Surgery involves removing the calcium deposit to decrease pain and improve mobility.
The best way to prevent heel spurs is to maintain good foot health. If you develop heel pain that lasts for several days, it is best to see a foot specialist. If you develop pain and ignore it, it could lead to continued problems, including heel spurs.
It is also important to treat any underlying foot issues that may alter the way you walk. Also, if you develop plantar fasciitis, it is helpful to see a foot specialist.
If you have any questions about heel spurs or other foot problems or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Podiatrist, Sheldon Nadal, D.P.M at the Bayview Eglinton Podiatry Clinic in Toronto.