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Heel Spurs

A Closer Look at Heel Spurs: Insights from Expert Podiatrists

A heel spur is a bony outgrowth on the underside of the heel bone. It afflicts wide-ranging populations worldwide. According to most accepted reasoning, it is caused by pressure overload on the foot, which is particularly common in athletes. It may provoke unpleasant or painful feelings, thus affecting the quality of life. Therefore, there is a need to address this issue using expert advice. 

In this blog, we will discuss every aspect of heel spurs, from their causes to symptoms and treatment options. Whether you already have symptoms or want to find prevention strategies, this article is for you. 

So, without further delay, let’s read ahead. 

What is Heel Spur?

A heel spur is a calcification forming a bony projection at the underside of the heel bone. It is linked to the strain and stress over time on the muscles, ligaments, and fascia of the feet. 

Heel spurs are often related to plantar fasciitis and commonly occur in persons who are physically active, obese, or wear ill-fitting shoes that tend to worsen foot strain.

Causes of Heel Spur

Causes of heel spur can be variable. However, the common factor present in every one of them is the constant stress and strain on the structures of the foot.

However, not every stress forces the formation of this anomaly, only those that overstretch the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue connecting the heel to the front of the foot.  

The repeated stress from walking, running, or poor foot support over a period causes micro-tears where the fascia attaches to the heel bone. In response, the body deposits calcium, eventually forming a heel spur.

Other conditions, like flat or high-arched feet, place extra pressure on the heel, increasing your susceptibility to developing foot spurs. Other lifestyle decisions, including poorly fitting shoes or being overweight, can also contribute.

 You should have a clear idea about every one of these causes. Knowledge will help you correlate it with your condition and take necessary steps for its management or prevention. 

Heel Spur Symptoms

Symptoms of a heel spur can vary significantly from person to person. These differences, in general, come from the location and size of the spur. For example, some people may have a spur and feel no symptoms. In comparison, others experience pain severe enough to affect their daily chores.

Regardless of the severity, the following symptoms can signal that you might have a heel spur and need the advice of a podiatrist. 

  • Sharp or stabbing pain in the heel when getting up from rest, usually in the morning. 
  • The pain usually decreases with activity but may return following prolonged standing or rising from a seated position.
  • Inflammation of the tissues surrounding the heel.
  • Sometimes, there is visible swelling at the site of the spur. 

Heel Spurs Treatment

The primary goal of heel spurs is to reduce pain and inflammation and address the underlying biomechanical causes.

For this purpose, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed to people experiencing pain and swelling around the heel. In more severe and persistent cases, invasive measures such as corticosteroid injections could be given to reduce inflammation.

Although the RICE protocol hasn’t shown much efficacy in heel spur treatment, resting after acute pain or icing episodes can help control the acute bouts of symptoms. Physical therapy, which involves exercises to stretch and strengthen the foot muscles, becomes indispensable in treating heel spurs. 

The major predisposing factor behind the formation of heel spurs is repetitive stress over a prolonged period. Therefore, providing comfort to the foot through orthotic insoles or customized orthopaedic products that redistribute pressure from the affected area can help relieve symptoms over time. 

If bone spurs are large and conservative treatment measures do not bring desired relief or if the bone spur is causing other serious complications, surgical removal of the spur is recommended. 

Therefore, it is obvious that treatment strategies vary significantly. Instead of trying multiple ways without finding relief, consult with an expert podiatrist at 5 Boro Podiatry to have your individualized treatment plan.

Preventions for Heel Spurs

Heel spur prevention includes practices that lower the stress on the foot and enhance general foot health. Key preventive measures include properly fitting shoes with sufficient support and cushioning, especially during physical activities. During running or jumping, the feet are exposed to maximum pressure. Therefore, using custom-made orthotics can make a real difference in foot health. 

Using custom-made orthotics by 5BoroPodiatry can also help you deal with underlying pathology. For example, wearing exclusively designed orthotics or flat feet and high arches decreases your likelihood of having heel spurs in the future. 

Additionally, regular stretching exercises of the Achilles and plantar fascia will contribute to staying flexible and reducing tension that causes heel spur formation. Finally, maintaining a healthy weight takes the extra pressure off the heel and reduces the risk of foot spurs. 

When to See a Podiatrist?

Understanding when to visit a podiatrist can help manage and treat heel spurs. If you have heel pain that does not respond to over-the-counter medications or home remedies, it is best to seek professional advice.

A podiatrist could give a complete diagnosis, usually involving imaging tests like X-rays, to confirm the fact of a heel spur and exclude other conditions. 

They will also offer tailor-made heel spurs treatment plans, including advanced therapies or surgical options if conservative measures fail. Early intervention by a podiatrist may help avert further complications related to the disease of heel spurs and thus ensure better health and mobility of the feet.

Additionally, suppose you suddenly start experiencing severe pain in your heel or notice any unusual swelling that wasn’t there before. In that case, our expert podiatrists at 5 Boro Podiatry can help you manage these symptoms as effectively as possible. 

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