Heel Spurs: A Common Foot Problem

A heel spur is a common foot problem that arises when there are calcium deposits on the heel bone. Though characteristically not painful, heel bone calcification can affect the connective tissue around them and cause quite some discomfort.

In order to properly diagnose heel spurs, an x-ray examination is usually necessary. Some heel spurs grow up to more than half an inch and can over time get very uncomfortable.

Causes of Heel Spurs

Those most at risk of suffering from heel spurs are athletes and people whose daily routine involves a lot of running and jumping. Heel spurs take time to develop and do not occur overnight. Continued exposure to risk factors eventually leads to a full blown heel spur.

If you put yourself in a position where you have to walk with an abnormal gait or put excessive strain on the heel then you are most likely to develop heel spurs. The type of shoes you wear and the activities you engage in while in them can either abate or exacerbate heel spurs. Good shoes should have great arch support as these help prevent heel spurs.

Being overweight or obese has also been shown to increase chances of suffering from this foot condition. The weight is all shifted to the base of foot causing a lot of strain on the membrane covering the heel of the foot. Repeated tearing and healing of the plantar fascia ligament can lead to accumulation of calcium deposits and this eventually develops into heel spurs.

To reduce chances of developing heel spurs medical expert’s advice that you should not spend most of your day standing up or on your feet. This may be unavoidable, however, depending on what you do for a living so here are a few treatment options for heel spurs.

Treatment of Heel Spurs

As earlier mentioned, calcaneal spurs are generally painless that is until they begin to affect neighbouring ligaments.

Like with any kind of pain, you can take pain medication to reduce the intensity of heel spur pain. Massages and relaxing exercises can also help your muscles relax and relieve you of some of the pressure. You can also opt for shockwave treatment (ESWT) if the spur is advanced.

Unfortunately, resting may not give you the kind of relief you need from heel spur pain. You may end up feeling worse because the planta fascia gets longer and pulls on your heel.

The non-surgical treatment options should suffice when it comes to treating heel spurs. Try getting proper shoes, inserts and other orthotic devices to help relieve your foot from time to time.

Surgical Interventions for Heel Spurs

If heel spurs and pain associated with them does not go away in a couple of months, you might want to pay your doctor another visit. At this point he or she will recommend surgical procedures either to remove the spur itself, relieve pressure on the planta fascia or both.

At this point it is imperative that you take really great care of yourself. Applying more pressure on the heel will only make things worse. Your doctor will carry out all diagnostic tests and examinations in preparation for your surgery.

While surgery for heel spurs is largely uneventful, complications may arise. You may experience numbness in the heel, recurring pain, infections, tendinitis and so much more.

Prevention of Heel Spurs

The best way to keep heel spurs at bay is to take the best possible care of your feet. Always wear properly fitting shoes preferably with shock-absorbing soles.

Keeping fit has an all round benefit for your body. Watching your weight will help prevent obesity which in turn keeps you light on your feet.

Athletes and sports personalities cannot do without the vigorous daily activity they engage in. The best way to do this then is warming up before the actual training begins. Warming will prevent undue pressure on your heel which is what causes heel spurs.

As a precautionary measure, you can assign yourself off-feet time daily. Take this time to just put your feet up and relax no matter what your day has been like. Never ignore any kind of pain you feel on your heel. Ignoring pain can lead to far serious consequences.

It is also important to note that self-medicating with painkillers is not the best intervention for heel spurs. These days there are over-the-counter orthotics which are far much more effective than pain medication when it comes to relieving heel pain. Consult with your doctor to know what brands will work best for you as these are also very person-specific as opposed to one-size-fits-all.




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