Heel spurs are deposits of calcium that form on the bottom of the heel bone and can occur for a variety of reasons but are a result of excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments in the foot. For example, if you’re a walker, runner, or engage in sports that require jumping on hard surfaces, or you wear shoes that don’t support your feet or place stress on the foot, you may develop heel spurs. According to our experienced Fort Worth podiatrist, they can also be caused by:
- wearing flip-flops and/or high heels too often
- a bruised heel
- plantar fasciitis
- being overweight
- an issue with your gait or posture
Heel spurs can be treated at home or by a Fort Worth podiatrist who will determine what methods to use to help with your specific concerns.
Common Signs of a Heel Spur
The most common sign of a heel spur is chronic, dull heel pain. According to our Fort Worth podiatrist, some people also experience sudden, sharp pain in the bottom of the heel or foot when walking or standing. Additionally, there are other signs of a heel spur, including:
- small, visible protrusion under the heel
- tenderness when pressure is applied to the foot
- inflammation and swelling at the front of the heel
- heat that radiates from the problem area
- pain that continues even if the foot is at rest
Heel spurs can form gradually over time and may not cause symptoms until they have progressed. A Fort Worth podiatrist can diagnose a heel spur though an examination and imaging tests.
Treatment Options for Heel Spurs
Often a heel spur can be treated by making changes to your lifestyle such as by losing weight or by modifying your activities. Rest and using ice or cold compresses on the area of the foot where pain is present can often provide relief. Some other conservative treatments for a heel spur are:
- Heat therapy. Heat can provide comfort and relief when applied to the bottom of the foot.
- Compression. Using light compression such as a wrap or socks can help with pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medication. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can help with pain and swelling.
- Corticosteroid injections. A podiatrist can administer injections of a steroid medication into the heel to reduce inflammation.
- Custom orthotics. Orthotics can be worn inside the shoes to provide support and extra cushioning.
- Shoes. Supportive shoes can be worn to take pressure off the heels. Look for shoes that have a slightly elevated heel and have padding.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy can consist of exercises to reduce pain and inflammation, including stretching the calf muscles, foot flexes and rolls, or stretching the toes.
- Shock wave therapy. Shock wave therapy uses pressure waves to enhance blood circulation in order to promote the regeneration of healthy tissue to help reduce pain in the heel of the foot.
When conservative treatments are used to take pressure off the bottom of the heel, the spur often gets absorbed back into the heel bone and disappears. Once this happens, no further treatment is needed.
In rare cases where conservative treatments do not provide relief, outpatient surgery may be needed to resolve the problem. Surgery can be done to either shave down the spur or remove it completely from the heel in order to eliminate the cause of the pain. Surgery may also be needed to repair the plantar fascia to prevent future complications.
According to our Fort Worth podiatrist, there are a variety of ways to help prevent painful heel spurs, including:
- Wear shoes that fit properly and give support in the arches to take pressure off the heels
- Avoid wearing high heels
- Warm up before engaging in physical activity
- Stretch your feet before running, jogging, or other activities
- Lose weight to take added pressure off your feet
Schedule an Appointment to See Our Experienced Fort Worth Podiatrist
If you are experiencing pain and inflammation from heel spurs, contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for an evaluation with our experienced Fort Worth podiatrist. To schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists in our Grapevine or Keller office, fill out our convenient online contact form, or call us today.