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How to Treat a Heel Spur

What You Need to Know About Treating a Heel Spur

Heel spur (also known as osteophytes or calcaneal spur) is a bony outgrowth at the plantar area of the foot, i.e., under the foot sole. This condition is related to calcium deposits that grow between the arch of the foot and heel. In fact, it extends from the underside of the heel toward the arch, creating pointy, shelf-like, or hooked growths.

Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis (inflammation across the foot) tend to go hand in hand. However, these two conditions can also occur independently. Additionally, heel spurs can be associated with underlying diseases causing arthritis. They include ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, and DISH (diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis).

treating a heel spur

This condition frequently occurs in people with active lifestyles. Those with heel spurs usually experience severe pain and tenderness when exercising or walking. This is because the spurs dig into the heel pad when stepping down and putting pressure on the heel. That causes a stabbing or shooting sensation so that the pain gets worse with every step you take.

The Top Treat Options for Heel Spurs

There are a number of different heel spur treatment options available for you to try that range from relieving pain to curing the condition. Check out the following options to discover the treatment that works for you.

Cushioned Shoes and Orthotic Inserts

The pain caused by heel spur usually happens due to the uneven pressure and poor arch support and. This is where specially designed shoe or orthotic inserts come in. By spreading pressure evenly and providing extra heel support, these inserts cut the pressure on the heels and reduce pain.

treating your heel spur pain

Comfortable, well-fitting, cushioned shoes can give you much the same effect. These also relieve pressure and alleviate heel pain. Your best bet is to go for sports running shoes that come with soft soles. When evaluating the shoes for comfort, you should look for the following things:

  • Firm heel support
  • Slightly elevated heel
  • Moderate flexibility

Applying Ice

Cold therapy that involves local ice application is proven to relieve inflamed tissues. The same goes for heel spurs. Ice can reduce both foot pain and swelling.

  • Simply apply ice packs covered with cloth to your heel.
  • To keep the ice packs in place, apply a cold compression.
  • Leave it on for about ten minutes and then unwrap.
  • Repeat the process several times a day.

Physiotherapy (Physical Therapy)

Stretching exercises for the plantar fascia and calf can relax the foot muscles. This significantly reduces strain on the heel spurs. The most helpful stretches include foot flexes and calf stretches. Once prescribed by an orthopedic doctor or podiatrist, these exercises can be done at home and/or at the clinic.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter (OTC) medications can relieve heel pain and inflammation. That way, they prevent further damage. The most commonly used medications for heel spurs include:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve)

People with kidney problems as well as those with a history of ulcers and stomach bleeding should steer clear of these medications.

Injections to Treat Heel Spur Pain

Note that injections of steroids (cortisone injections) are meant to alleviate pain, not to cure the heel spurs. Actually, these injections reduce pain and swelling in the affected areas. They are only prescribed in more advanced cases if OTC anti-inflammatory medications are not effective.

Deciding on Heel Surgery 

Surgical intervention may be necessary in case of chronically inflamed heel spurs. It is only recommended if the condition persists for a long time and all non-surgical treatment options have been exhausted.

heel spur surgery

Luckily, the above-mentioned treatment methods are effective in most cases, so surgery is usually not needed. The most common surgical techniques for heel spurs are the removal of a spur and release of the plantar fascia. Aside from curing the bone spurs, they are supposed to improve the foot mobility and relieve pain.

Treating Your Heel Spur

In less severe cases, natural homemade remedies can also be helpful. The most effective remedies include Epsom salts, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and coconut oil. Also, it is important to note that people suffering from heel spurs should take a rest whenever possible. They are advised to avoid activities which aggravate the symptoms of calcaneal spurs, such as extended periods of standing and jogging.