Heel spurs can be very painful. Sometimes the pain is so bad that it prevents walking and disturbs sleep. Because of the severity, medical treatment can include steroid injections directly to the bottom of the foot or even surgery.
Before it gets this bad however, it’s best to check out the conservative treatment options you can turn to so you can stop the problem in its tracks.
A heel (or calcaneal) spur is a small buildup of calcium on the calcaneus (heel) bone of the foot. When the back of the foot is subjected to continuous pressure, calcium deposits can build up on the heel bone. This is not usually a problem, but over time more deposits may continue to develop on top of each other, forming a heel spur.
This may be your issue if you have persistent pain in your heel or on the bottom of your foot. It can be so bad that you may experience difficulty placing weight on the back of the foot.
Heel spurs can be inferior, occurring underneath the heel which causes pain when you step on something hard. They may also be located at the top of your heel at the back of the calcaneal bone, near the Achilles tendon. This is right above the backing of your shoe.
How do you know if it’s a heel spur or a different type of foot pain?
Heel spurs are diagnosed via x-rays that show the characteristic hook-shaped buildup on the heel. Heel spurs commonly occur in patients who have suffered from plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia, or foot arch), particularly over long periods of time. They can also occur, however, in patients with no history of this condition.
Plantar fasciitis is closely associated with heel spurs. They are often considered the same condition, but plantar fasciitis involves the tendon at the bottom of the heel, as opposed to a heel spur which relates to the heel bone itself. Tension and inflammation of the plantar fascia can lead to small calcium deposits on the heel bone which forms the bone spur. Often, the bone spur itself is not painful, but rather it’s an indicator that the person has had long-standing plantar fasciitis which is the real cause of the pain.
Other causes of heel spurs are linked to: obesity, a condition called childhood ankylosing spondylitis, and the persistent wearing of high-heeled shoes.
Chiropractic treatment is your effective and non-surgical option to stop heel spur pain. It usually consists of the following:
- Clear advice of how to avoid exacerbating the condition. Preventative and curative advice includes wearing supportive shoes (rather than high-heels) and avoiding walking around barefoot or running on hard surfaces.
- Treatment with ultrasound and ice may also be used. This can painlessly break up the tough tissue that is causing the heel spurs.
- Exercises to stretch the muscles of the calf and bottom portion of the foot may be recommended to help reduce tension and inflammation.
- Possible deep-tissue massage of the foot to release tension in the plantar fascia.
- In some cases, the leg may be splinted at night, which is similar to a temporary caste, holding it in a specific position in order to further stretch the calf.
- Specifically fitted orthotic arch supports may also be advised for use in your everyday shoes, especially when plantar fasciitis symptoms and pain are constant.
When heel spur pain is disturbing your sleep or preventing you from walking, an analgesic medication may aid in comfort, but will not solve the underlying problem. In extreme cases that have existed for a long time, steroid injections and surgery may be necessary. Heel spurs usually respond well to conservative chiropractic treatment and should be addressed as soon as possible to decrease the extraordinary measures of treatment needed.
Contact us for a specific “Foot, Knee and Leg evaluation” where we determine what is causing your foot pain and talk to you about how to eliminate your pain quickly and effectively.