A common injury among athletes and those who work on their feet constantly, heel spurs occur frequently in those with active lifestyles.
The heel spur is identified by a bony outgrowth of the calcaneus bone, or the heel. They can either be located at the back of the heel or underneath the back of the foot.
Heel spurs often cause swelling, tenderness, and pain to the back of the foot near the achilles tendon, and this pain can be worsened by putting pressure on the ball of the foot.
This condition is a very common development in those with plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of Heel Spur
The most common symptoms of a heel spur include redness, tenderness, inflammation, and pain to either the achilles tendon area or posterior aspect of the bottom of the foot. In addition, it may also feel warm to the touch because of the tissue damage the bone growth is causing. These symptoms can also spread throughout the foot as the condition worsens.
Heel spurs do not always cause pain, as about 50% of cases do not present any pain and may go unnoticed for months at a time. Also, you may not experience or notice any changes to the bone or tissue in the affected area.
The symptoms related to heel spur may be hard to pinpoint and may not make it seem like a bone disorder, making it hard to identify on your own. It is highly recommended to see a trusted podiatrist if you experience any of the symptoms above to make sure the condition does not progress.
Diagnosis of heel spur may be difficult, as it can only be accurately identified through X-ray. Most of the time, it is only discovered when testing for a separate condition.
If left unattended, permanent tissue and nerve damage could occur. These advanced symptoms of heel spur are hard to control once they reach this point, so timely care is important.
Heel Spur Treatment Options
There are multiple options for treatment of a heel spur. These methods include pain management techniques, inflammation control, and surgical interventions.
Common treatment options include:
- Orthotic inserts. Since heel spur is caused by poor arch support and uneven pressure, these specially designed inserts can help to spread pressure and reduce pain.
- Ice. Icing and using a cold compress to the affected area can help to reduce the swelling and tenderness you may be experiencing.
- Injections. Injections of steroids and other anti-inflammatory substances can help to manage pain in more advanced cases.
- Physical therapy. Stretching and performing specific exercises, as provided by your podiatrist or orthopedic doctor, can help to loosen the muscles and aid in recovery.
If the condition persists and all of the above treatment methods have been exhausted, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention. This surgery is normally not just to cure the heel spur, but to improve overall mobility to the foot.
Most cases of heel spur also have an associated case of plantar fasciitis, for which the surgery also remedies. This surgery not only cures the heel spur, but also makes the foot healthier and able to bear weight and perform daily activities more easily.
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