What is a Heel Spur?
A heel spur is a bony growth made up of calcium build-up on the underside of your foot that may or may not be visible.
Over time, excessive strain stretches the soft tissues in your heel and causes them to wear out.
Many times, heel spurs do not cause any pain and are only caught when you are experiencing pain from another foot condition.
Heel pain comes in many varieties and sometimes it can be difficult to determine the exact cause.
When it comes to plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, both are the result of excessive stress and strain being placed on the feet over time, whether it be from sports, running, walking, age, or other stresses like a job that requires frequent standing.
While the symptoms of both conditions are similar and can be confused with each other, they can also coexist at the same time.
What Causes a Heel Spur?
Risk factors that increase the likelihood of incurring a heel spur include:
- Repeated, long-term stress on your feet, whether occupational or recreational
- Increasing age
- Being overweight
- Going barefoot often
- Wearing high heels often
- Wearing poor fitting shoes that don’t support your foot, like flip flops or worn-out footwear
- Improper gait or walking patterns
- Plantar fasciitis
The condition can also be congenital as soft tissue pulls at the attachment to bone.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Heel Spur?
Symptoms can be similar to those of plantar fasciitis, such as pain that starts in the heel but spreads to the arch of your foot.
Because of this, you’ll probably need to see a specialist to get properly diagnosed.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Pain as soon as you stand on your feet after getting out of bed
- Stabbing pain that dulls as the day goes on
- Heel pain after heavy exercise
- The feeling of pins and needles in your foot
- Stiff heel
Concerned about symptoms of a heel spur? Book a physiotherapy assessment at your local pt Health clinic today.
How is a Heel Spur Treated?
Unfortunately your heel spur may be here to stay since surgery is a delicate issue. And while pain medication can certainly help, it’s only a short-term solution.
Treatment for a heel spur can include:
- At-home treatment including:
- applying ice packs
- resting your foot
- avoiding activities that cause pain or put stress on your foot
- anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Advil or Aleve to reduce pain and swelling
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), either prescribed, or over-the-counter, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Corticosteroid injections
- Surgery – surgery is rarely needed, and most people who undergo surgery also have plantar fasciitis. However, if surgery is necessary after other less invasive treatments have not helped, physiotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation.
Physiotherapy for a Heel Spur
Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, regaining strength, increasing mobility and function, and preventing recurrence.
At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.
Physiotherapy for heel spur pain treats inflammation while also attempting to manually break down calcium build-up through therapeutic ultrasound or manual therapy.
Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy can also include:
- Functional retraining and activity modification including gait exercises
- Stretching, strengthening and range of motion exercises
- Personalized exercise plan that you can do at home to encourage continuous improvement and progress
- Preventative strategies to help you manage lifestyle, work, and other risk factors
- Patient education
- Cross-disciplinary pain-relieving therapies such as:
Can a Heel Spur Go Away On Its Own?
While a heel spur will never truly go away without a sensitive surgery, it is possible to reduce new bone growth if the problem is caught in its early stages.
Because heel spurs are a chronic condition, prognosis can sometimes take upwards of four to twelve weeks before a patient is feeling better.
Can You Prevent a Heel Spur?
If you have an increased risk for heel spurs (you play sports, run, or your job involves long periods of standing), speak to a physiotherapist about the best exercises for your activities.
Don’t ignore heel pain when it starts.
Other steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of incurring a heel spur include:
- Warming up and stretching before exercise
- Cooling down and stretching after exercise
- Practicing good posture
- Taking regular breaks from being on your feet
- Wearing orthotics and properly supportive shoes for your activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (avoiding processed and refined foods and sugar)
Book a Physiotherapist Consult for a Heel Spur Today
Concerned about symptoms of a heel spur? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.