Are you having pain in your heel?
A heel spur is a hook of bone that can form on the heel bone (calcaneus) and is often associated with plantar fasciitis. However, against common belief, plantar fasciitis is more often not caused by a heel spur. About 70% of people with plantar fasciitis have a heel spur that can be seen on an X-ray, but many people without symptoms of pain can have a spur.
Heel spurs are common in patients who have a history of foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis. In the setting of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs are most often seen in middle-aged men and women, but can be found in all age groups. The heel spur itself is not the cause of the pain, rather the inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia is thought to be the primary problem. A heel spur diagnosis is made when an X-ray shows a hook of bone protruding from the bottom of the foot at the point where the plantar fascia is attached to the heel bone.
Treatment of heel spurs is the same treatment of plantar fasciitis. The first step in treatment of a heel spur is short-term rest and inflammation control. Here are steps patients should take to cure the symptoms of a heel spur:
- Rest. The first treatment step is avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms. For example, take a few days off from jogging or prolonged standing to try to rest the painful foot. Just resting usually helps eliminate the most severe pain, and will allow the inflammation to begin to settle down.
- Apply ice packs. Icing will help diminish some of the symptoms and control the pain. Icing is especially helpful after an acute exacerbation of symptoms.
- Exercises and stretches. Exercises and stretches that are designed to relax the tissues that surround the heel bone. Some simple exercises, performed in the morning and evening, often help patients feel better quickly.
- Anti-inflammatory medications. Anti-inflammatory medications help control pain and decrease inflammation. Over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient, but prescription options are also available.
- Shoe inserts. Shoe inserts are often the key to successful treatment of heel spurs. The inserts permit patients to continue their routine activities without pain.
- Night splints. Night splints are worn at night to help keep the heel stretched out while you sleep. They prevent the arch of the foot from becoming contracted in the night.
If after conservative treatment, the pain still exists, your podiatrist may decide to surgically remove the spur. If you have bone spur in your foot, ankle, or toe, and believe that it requires podiatric attention, call one of our six offices: Rocky Hill CT, Bristol CT, Newington CT, Glastonbury CT, Middletown CT, and Kensington CT to make an appointment with one of our four highly trained podiatrists: Dr. Jeffrey S. Kahn, Dr. Richard E. Ehle, Dr. Craig M. Kaufman, and Dr. Ayman M. Latif.