A heel spur is a bony growth that develops over time on or near the calcaneus (i.e., heel bone). It is most often the result of normal wear and tear, but it can also occur as a byproduct of an abnormal gait, excess weight, and/or ill-fitting shoes. Essentially, daily stress from any number of sources slowly strains the integrity of the ligaments and tendons in the foot so that the band of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot (the plantar fascia) stretches out of shape and the membrane covering the heel bone tears. As the body then sets to work repairing this damage, it begins depositing calcium (among other things) within the injured tissue(s). These deposits can sometimes form into bony protrusions on the heel, aka a “heel spur.” In many instances, people don’t even know they have a heel spur until they start experiencing foot pain! If you suffer from a heel spur, here’s what you need to know about the most common heel spur pain treatment options so you can find relief:
One of the best heel spur pain treatments is rest. Taking a break from exercise and other athletic endeavors allows the body — especially your feet — the time it needs to mend and restore itself.
Don’t be intimidated by the fancy-sounding word, cryotherapy as a heel spur pain treatment is nothing more than applying ice to your painful heel. Cold temperatures have been shown to decrease inflammation and swelling by temporarily reducing the flow of blood to an area. Cryotherapy won’t get rid of a heel spur, but it can reduce some of the inflammation that goes along with it. And less inflammation means less pain.
Of course, NSAID medication is an appropriate heel spur pain treatment for people able to tolerate the risks of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs work by blocking the production of some of the chemicals that trigger inflammation. They are easy to purchase and use and provide quick relief in most situations. However, NSAID medication shouldn’t be relied upon for more than 10 consecutive days due to their potential for toxicity after prolonged exposure.
New Shoes (and/or Orthotics)
It might sound simple, but changing footwear could be the answer to alleviating your heel spur pain. Pick shoes with adequate arch support, a wide toe box, and lots of cushioning to properly support your feet each time they hit the ground. An orthotic device can also be added to maximize your feet’s protection.
Stretching or Physical Therapy
Stretching and intentional physical therapy activities can help you strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet, as well. This, in turn, protects them from further injury. Here are a few conditioning exercises to try as potential heel spur pain treatments.
Northwest Surgery Center Advantage
There are many possible heel spur pain treatments. In addition to the ones mentioned here, there are other options that include injections, taping, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), cryoultrasound therapy, night splints, weight loss, and, of course, surgery. When conservative treatments fail to provide any effective pain relief, surgery is often the only choice. At Northwest Surgery Center, we offer minimally invasive surgery to release pressure on the stretched plantar fascia. The entire procedure is performed with only local anesthesia, takes less than 90 minutes, and requires little downtime (if any!). To learn more about using surgery as a heel spur pain treatment, please contact us for a free consultation.