What are Heel Spurs?
A heel spur is when a calcium deposit causes an outgrowth on the calcaneus bone, or heel bone. They can occur on the back of the heel, under the heel, or beneath the sole of the foot. The plantar fascia ligament is designed to stretch your heel bone with every step you take, but if it is stretched too much, it may tear. Because of this tearing, your body attempted to provide some comfort to the over-stretched ligament by building up calcium in that location, which is why heel spurs occur. Heel spurs can happen alone, or they can be related to underlying conditions, such as Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis.
Common Causes of Heel Spurs
The calcium build up that causes heel spurs typically occurs over a few months. They are especially common in athletes who engage in a large amount of running and jumping. Some common causes of heel spurs include:
- Walking Gait Abnormalities – Walking gait abnormalities place extreme amounts of stress on your heel bone, ligaments, and your nerves located around your heel.
- Running and Jogging – If you enjoy running outdoors on hard surfaces, such as concrete, you are more susceptible to developing heel spurs.
- Improper Equipment – Keep your feet protected against heel spurs by wearing properly fitted shoes that have appropriate arch support. Poorly fitted or worn out shoes can increase your chances of developing heel spurs.
- Obesity – The more weight your feet have to support, the more stress there is on your bones, joints, and ligaments.
Symptoms of Heel Spurs
Heel spurs often cause no symptoms. However, if you are experiencing a heel spur, you may notice tenderness or pain, especially if you are suffering from an additional foot injury. Many people describe this pain as a knife sticking into the bottom of their affected foot when they first stand up in the morning, which then turns into a dull ache. This can make simple tasks, such as standing, walking, and running extremely difficult.
Treatment Options for Heel Spurs
Most heel spurs can be treated with non-surgical treatment. Some of the most common ways to treat heel spurs are:
- Walking – Heel pain because of heel spurs often does not respond well to rest. Walking can help decrease the pain, but it may reoccur after either prolonged rest or extensive walking.
- Shoe Inserts – Orthotic inserts can help align the bones in your foot and cushion your heel. This puts the least amount of stress possible on your bones and joints.
- Physical Therapy – A trained physical therapist can help teach you different stretching exercises to help treat your heel spurs. Physical therapy is the best option available to ensure you reduce any pain as quickly and safely as possible.
Schedule an Appointment with a Physical Therapist
If you are experiencing any discomfort in your feet, you may be suffering from a heel spur or a more serious foot condition. Be sure to contact JAG Physical Therapy today to get back the life you love!