Heel pain can have a real impact on your life and stop you from doing what you want to do. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Heel Spurs and what can help. This resource has been created to help people understand the truth about Heel Spurs and how to overcome heel pain as quickly as possible.
Learn more about Heel Spurs and as well as treatment options to get over heel pain for good.
What is a Heel Spur?
A heel spur is a bony growth that extends from the calcaneus (heel bone) and into the soft tissue that creates the arch of the foot.
What causes Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs can be the result of calcification of the attachment of the plantar fascia (soft tissue) that connects into the front of the heel bone (calcaneus). This calcification can occur when the plantar fascia is under high loads, often seen in cases of plantar fasciopathy (sometimes referred to as plantar fasciitis).
For this reason, practitioners often focus their attention on treating the plantar fasciopathy rather than focussing on the heel spur.
What are the symptoms of having a Heel Spur?
People experiencing symptoms of heels spurs are actually feeling the symptoms of plantar fasciopathy which include:
– Pain and/ or swelling under the heel bone or arch of the foot.
– Pain that is often worse with first steps after activity or after long periods of being active.
– Pain that ‘warms up’ or feels better during the middle of activity.
*Heel spurs remain present within the body long after symptoms resolve and for this reason are not the cause of the pain or problem, but rather are the result of it.
How are Heel Spurs diagnosed?
Heel spurs can be diagnosed with imaging such as plain film X ray or MRI.
While imaging can be helpful, a good therapist who has experience working with both Heel Spurs and Plantar Fascioapthy can assess and diagnose the problem and begin treatment during the first session of treatment, without the need for further imaging.
Who gets Heel Spurs?
Anyone who has experienced times of high load on the plantar fascia (most often during cases of plantar fasciopathy) can get plantar fasciopathy.
What are the treatment options for Heel Spurs?
Successful treatment of Heel Spurs involves treatment of the underlying condition, Plantar Fasciopathy.
Short term management of Plantar Fascioapthy is usually targeted at reducing the pain and improving function. These treatment options are often widely recommended by many health professionals.
This can include:
- Reducing the amount of provocative activities such as walking, running, playing sports etc.
- Wearing lace up shoes to refrain from excessive movement within the foot and ankle, leading to pain
- Using ice packs to reduce the swelling and pain
- Taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling and pain
- In some cases, using crutches or protecting the area with a moon boot can be useful
Successful long term management of Plantar Fasciopathy is different for different people. For example: an athlete, someone working in a standing occupation and someone with a sedentary lifestyle, when treated with best practice guidelines, will be offered different tailored advice to suit their needs and goals.
Successful management plan will address the underlying cause of the problem and may include:
- Load/ activity management (this may include use of a boot or crutches)
- Footwear advice/ consideration
- Orthotic therapy to influence biomechanics and gait (the particular way the foot is being loaded)
- Strength and conditioning exercises (to make the body stronger, influence movement and gait and prevent recurrence of injury)\
This is only possible where the practitioner takes the time to provide a thorough assessment to understand the individual influencing factors that have caused the problem.
Will Orthotics be helpful for me?
Podiatrist, Strength & Conditioning Coach
Proactive Health & Movement