Treatment Options to Consider for a Heel Spur

May 12, 2023
Treatment Options to Consider for a Heel Spur
Heel spurs are a common cause of heel and foot pain, but fortunately, you can treat them. In this post, learn why heel spurs happen, what symptoms they cause, and how we can help you find relief.

Most of us don’t give much thought to our heels — unless they start to hurt. Then, every step we take can cause significant discomfort centered in the heel area, across the sole of the foot, or up into the ankle and calf region. While heel pain can happen for different reasons, heel spurs are one of the most common causes of pain.

At Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC, in Watertown and Newbury, Connecticut, leading podiatrists Joel S Segalman, FACFAS, FACFAO, and Stephen Lazaroff, DPM, FACFAS, help patients conquer heel spur pain with custom therapies that target the root cause. If you have nagging heel pain, here’s how they can help you feel better.

How heel spurs happen

Your heel bones typically have smooth edges, allowing normal movement without friction with the surrounding tissues. Heel spurs are bony projections or lumps that form along the edge of the heel bone. When these projections press on tendons, muscles, or other tissues, you can wind up with pain, irritation, and inflammation.

Heel spurs form when extra calcium builds up along the outer surface of the bone. In most cases, heel spurs form when repeated stresses or strains impact the heel. Athletes who do a lot of running and jumping are especially prone to heel spurs, but they can occur in other people, too, especially people with risk factors like:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Abnormal walking pattern (gait pattern)
  • Shoes without adequate arch support
  • Running or walking a lot on hard pavement
  • Diabetes
  • Being on your feet for long periods
  • Having high arches or flat feet

Heel spurs also occur more frequently with age as years of wear and tear take their toll on your heels.

Heel spur symptoms

Heel spurs can cause acute and chronic (persistent) pain in your heels, ankles, calves, and the soles of your feet. There are also heel spurs that don’t cause any symptoms.

Spurs can form on the bottom of your heel bone or along the back edge. When a spur forms along the bottom of the heel, it often leads to plantar fasciitis, a common type of foot pain that you can feel along the sole or edge of your foot. Spurs that form on the back of the heel bone are a common cause of Achilles tendonitis, inflammation of your Achilles tendon.

Treating heel spurs

Some people with heel spurs find their symptoms are relieved with conservative treatments, like:

  • Application of ice
  • Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicines, like ibuprofen
  • Special stretching exercises
  • Splinting or bracing, especially during sleep
  • A change in footwear
  • Custom orthotics
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Noninvasive sound wave therapy to relieve inflammation and promote healing

Many patients benefit from a combination of several treatments. 

When these conservative options are ineffective in providing long-term, meaningful relief, we may suggest a surgical procedure to remove the spur and relieve irritation and inflammation in the area. Before recommending any treatment, we thoroughly exam your foot, evaluate your gait, take a complete medical history, ask about your lifestyle habits, and obtain X-rays of your heel.

Heel spurs are a common source of heel pain but not the only cause. Request an appointment online or call the Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists team today to learn what’s causing your painful symptoms.