What is a heel spur?
A heel spur is a bone growth that develops on the back or bottom of the heel. While anyone could get a spur on the heel, they’re more common in women than men and in people aged 40 or older.1
Heel spur pain can vary from a sharp, stabbing sensation to a mild ache. In many cases, spurs on the heel are present for some time but don’t hurt until they grow to the point that they press on the nerves and soft tissue of the foot.
Dorsal spurs form on the back of the heel, and plantar spurs appear at the bottom. It’s possible to have multiple spurs on one heel.
What causes heel spurs?
These factors increase the risk:
- poor foot biomechanics with ineffective arch function
- gait imbalances like overpronation (flat feet)
- trauma to the heel
- Repetitive motion in sports like basketball and running
- Wearing poorly made and fitted shoes without proper foot support
Diagnosing heel spurs
Since related conditions like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis cause heel pain and inflammation, it’s important to be checked for them in order to get an accurate diagnosis. Heel spurs can’t usually be seen by the naked eye unless they become large. Your doctor will perform an examination to determine your condition and recommend treatment.
Treating heel spurs
Heel spurs are permanent and will not go away on their own. It’s important to treat them because over time, heel spurs can affect gait and balance as the body reacts to the pain. That can lead to undue stress in the knees, hips, and back and an increased risk of injury.
Most patients with heel spurs can experience pain relief through nonsurgical means. That can include custom orthotics, chiropractic care and physical therapy with stretching exercises, cortisone shots, night splints, and the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
Foot Levelers custom orthotics are a proven and noninvasive tool for addressing the pain and some of the underlying causes of heel spurs. Orthotics are available with heel spur corrections. These are bilateral, horseshoe-shaped corrections placed in the heel to help alleviate heel spur pain. If the spur is at the back of the heel, custom orthotics with heel lifts can help relieve pressure. ln addition, custom orthotics support the arches and restore the balance and stability caused by ineffective foot structure. Your doctor can determine the custom orthotics that are right for you and monitor your use for optimal results.
Your doctor can also recommend shoe styles with proper support plus extra cushioning and shock absorption in the heels. Wearing them with along with custom orthotics provides optimal comfort and stabilization.
In most cases, you can ease the pain of heel spurs without the need for surgery. In extreme situations where conservative care isn’t helping or a heel spur breaks off, they may be removed through an outpatient procedure. However, if the factors that contributed to your condition remain, heel spurs can return.
You can do something about heel spur pain. Find a Foot Levelers provider near you.
1Toumi H, Davies R, Mazor M, Coursier R, Best TM, Jennane, R, Lespessailles E. Changes in prevalence of calcaneal spurs in men & women: a random population from a trauma clinic. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. 2014 Mar 15.