Heel Spurs: What They Are and How to Treat Them

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

Many people suffer from intense heel pain. There are a variety of factors that cause heel pain, but one of the most common sources is heel spurs.

What is a Heel Spur?

A heel spur is a bony protrusion that forms on your heel bone and grows towards your toes. They typically form in response to injury and repetitive stress.

The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your forefoot. It provides support for your arch and shock absorption for your entire foot. Given the amount of stress the plantar fascia endures from running and walking, it frequently gets stretched and torn.

This is called plantar fasciitis, and it is very painful. Causes of plantar fasciitis include walking and running (especially on hard surfaces), jumping, and poor footwear choice.

Repetitive stress can cause a buildup of calcium at the point where the fascia connects to the bone. The result of this calcium buildup is a heel spur.

What Are the Symptoms of a Heel Spur?

Heel spurs themselves do not always cause pain and discomfort. Heel pain is usually attributed to plantar fasciitis. However, the size and positioning of the heel spur can cause pain and swelling in the surrounding soft tissues.

Heel pain associated with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is sharp, intense, and typically localized on the bottom of your heel. The pain is often worse when getting out of bed or after long periods of inactivity. As you take those first few steps, the plantar fascia is stretched, and pulled, and torn again.

Is Treatment Available for Heel Spurs?

Yes, there are a variety of ways you can manage heel pain from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Ibuprofen and aspirin can take the edge off the pain. Resting and icing the area can help as well.

Stretching is very effective in promoting healing and preventing further trauma. We highly recommend stretching before and after activities like walking and running. If you find that you are experiencing frequent heel pain after exercising, mix up your regimen with lower-impact exercises.

Wearing a splint at night helps the fascia heal properly and reduces the amount of stretching and tearing when you take those first steps in the morning. Orthotic shoe inserts help support your arch and provide extra cushioning to help reduce the amount of stress your plantar fascia sustains.

In more chronic and severe cases, a cortisone injection can be administered that reduces pain and further injury to the area. Another option for heel spur pain is Shockwave Therapy. This process stimulates cellular repair, increases blood flow to the area, blocks pain receptors, and can break down the bony protrusion.

Finding a Course of Treatment That Works for You

If you are suffering from the intense foot pain associated with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, make an appointment with us. We will assess your foot pain, possible causes, and get you on track with a treatment plan.

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