Heel spurs: symptoms, risk factors, and treatment
Heel spurs are hardened deposits on the heel due to the buildup of calcium. The heel spur can extend out to approximately half an inch, which can be shown through an x-ray. These heel spurs can often lead to plantar fasciitis, also known as heel pain. Heel spurs take months to develop as calcium deposits build up. Excessive strain on the muscles or ligaments tearing of the membrane on the heel bone can all contribute to the development of heel spurs. Factors that increase your risk of developing this condition include:
- High body mass index
- Uncomfortable or poorly-fitted shoes
- Running on hard surfaces
- A walking gait that strains the heel bones or ligaments, causing deterioration
Symptoms of bone spurs include:
- Sharp pain when standing on your foot after remaining sitting for long periods
- Swelling of the heel and possible inflammation
- Aching heels throughout the day while walking or standing
- Visible protrusion of the bone under a heel
There are a combination of treatment options for heel spurs. Most commonly and one that should be incorporated within your daily life is custom orthotics. If you play sports, you should invest in cushioned shoes or have them customized. Cortisone injections are also an option to relieve inflammation. Before trying this method, you should refer to anti-inflammatory medication. Getting rest is an obvious and important component in healing.
Heel Spur vs. Plantar Fasciitis: Discover The Differences
Although both conditions are related to one another, they have different causes and symptoms. For one, heel spurs occur when there are calcium deposits along the underside of the foot. This occurs over months and is a visible change that can be examined through an x-ray. Plantar fasciitis, also known as heel pain, does not sustain any changes to the bone or ligaments. Rather, it is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, which can result in swelling. Plantar fasciitis does not always require treatment, and will go away with time. Bone spurs, however, require treatment and can be permanent if gone untreated.
What is a non-surgical treatment for bone spurs?
Surgery isn’t common for bone spurs. There are many non-surgical options for treatment. The best non-surgical option for bone spurs would be orthotics. Custom orthotics aim to relieve pressure off the heel and reposition the bone spur. They will also prevent further damage or pain to the ligaments. To relieve inflammation, you can also take over-the-counter medication, or cortisone injections, which are stronger if the medication should not work.
What causes heel pain? Is it the deficiency of Vitamin D?
Heel pain is commonly caused by excessive movement, strain, and uncomfortable footwear. These are all extrinsic factors, and if we move into intrinsic causes of plantar fasciitis, we can see Vitamin D plays a role in building strong bones. Regulating our consumption is important because it can impact the fragility of our bones. For example, having a high body mass index due to being overweight and obese can put more pressure on our heels, and lead to heel pain. Similarly, a deficiency in Vitamin D impacts the strength of the bones and ligaments in our feet, making them prone to injury and fractures. Therefore, you should try to incorporate Vitamin D in your diet.
What are ways to minimize pain in the heel?
There are quite a few things you can try at home to alleviate heel pain. These include:
- Applying ice regularly for around ten minutes
- Over-the-counter medications or cortisone injections for a stronger effect
- Customized orthotics or padded shoes which cushion the heel
- Wearing night splints or orthotic devices prescribed by your pedorthist
- Physical therapy
Can compression socks aggravate plantar fasciitis?
Compression socks are meant to squeeze the leg lightly, which in turn promotes blood circulation. According to verified doctors and a few studies conducted, compression socks are actually good for alleviating plantar fasciitis pain, and will not worsen the condition. They do not provide proper support like orthotics would, but they help relieve pain. They are good to use when you’re not standing or walking. The compression socks stretch your plantar fascia. This, in turn, prevents pain after sitting for prolonged periods.
Why do snow skiers get plantar fasciitis so frequently?
The intrinsic muscles are put under pressure while skiing, especially downhill. Because of this, it is hard to balance and stabilize the feet, and this results in a transfer of weight within the foot, to the heel. Now since the heel is under pressure, the skier will become prone to plantar fasciitis. In some cases, ski boots do not properly fit, and as mentioned above, uncomfortable and ill-fitting footwear contributes to the development of plantar fasciitis. Additionally, after a day of skiing, your foot has probably been overexerted, which is why you may experience pain consequently. Always remember to exercise caution while skiing, and make sure you are purchasing good ski boots.
If your bone spur is causing you pain or discomfort, our Burlington Chiropodist can help! Serving the Milton, Hamilton, Waterdown, Burlington, Oakville areas of the GTA, we help you get back to healthy and happy living. Call us at 289-245-6624.