A heel spur is a bony outgrowth on the underside of heel due to calcium deposit. A heel spur can extend forward for around half of an inch under the X-ray.
What Does It Feel Like To Have A Heel Spur?
Often it is found that heel spurs do not cause any symptoms. The patient may not even know that he has a heel spur. However, heel spurs may cause some symptoms at times-
- The patient may feel chronic pain if he has a heel spur. Such pain may be felt more while jogging, running or even walking. Painful symptoms occur if the inflammation develops at the point of the spur formation.
- It should be noted that the cause of such symptomatic pain is not the spur itself. The pain occurs mostly when the spur presses against the soft tissue near which it grows.
- Some patients may complain of sharp pain like a knife/pin sticking under their foot when they try to stand up.
- Patients often feel such sharp pain on standing up after sitting for longer periods of time.
What are the Risk Factors for Heel Spurs?
There can be various risk factors of developing heel spurs. Such may include-
- Increased age which contributes to thinning of the heel's protective pad.
- If the patient has diabetes.
- Risk factor may also include abnormalities in the walking gait. Placing excessive stress on the heel bone may wear it out affecting the ligaments & nerves near the heel. A heel spur may occur as a natural body mechanism to compensate the worn out heel.
- Jogging or running on hard surfaces increase the chances of developing heel spur.
- Wearing shoes which are poorly fitted lacking proper support may contribute to the chance of developing heel spur.
- Having obesity increases the risk of heel spur.
- Heel spurs also develop when patients have flat foot or very high arches.
How Are Heel Spurs Diagnosed?
Heel spurs can generally be suspected based on the history of the symptomatic pain and tenderness of the heel. It can be identified easily when the patient complains of tenderness at the bottom of the heel. This tenderness makes it difficult for the patient to even step barefooted on tile or wooden floors. Presence of a heel spur is easily confirmed through X-ray examination of the heel bone.
How Can Heel Spurs Be Treated?
The treatment procedures of heel spurs involve measures to reduce the inflammation associated within and avoiding further injury. The doctor may prescribe-
- Cold compress on the affected area. It is seen that local ice application help reduce pain and inflammation of the area affected by a heel spur.
- Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to reduce the pain. Such medications may be given orally or sometimes through injection depending on the intensity of the pain.
- Sometimes, shoe inserts are recommended because they reduce the pressure and stress from the tendons which are affected by the heel spurs.
- Running shoes with cushioned soles are also helpful in reducing inflammation of the tissues affected by heel spurs.
- At times, if need be, the doctor may perform surgery in case of chronic inflammation caused by heel spurs.
How Can Heel Spurs Be Prevented?
In order to prevent heel spurs, one must always wear well-fitted shoes which have shock-absorbent soles. It should be made sure that shoes have supportive heel counters. It should be remembered that before starting to workout, one should indulge in few warm-up exercises. People should not abruptly increase the intensity of the workout; instead one should pace himself with increasing intensity. Also, a person should maintain a healthy body weight.