Heel spurs are bony growths on the bottom of the heel that direct toward the arch of your foot. While some people have heel spurs and never know about them, others can experience significant pain that can make every step harder than the last.
This condition commonly occurs with plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes inflammation across the bottom of the foot, especially the heel. Here are seven treatments and remedies that can help you find relief.
2. Shoes and orthotics
Comfortable and well-fitting shoes can reduce the amount of pressure on the heel spur. This pressure can cause pain and discomfort. Here’s what to look for when evaluating a shoe for comfort when you have a heel spur:
- Firm heel support: The back “counter” of the shoe should be firm in order to support the heel and prevent your foot from rolling inward or outward.
- Moderate flexibility: A shoe shouldn’t be so easy to flex that it’s collapsible. However, the shoe should have a gradual bend that has some resistance when your foot is flexed or bent.
- Slightly elevated heel: A heel insert or shoe that has a slightly elevated heel (no more than 1 inch high) can help take pressure off your painful heel.
You can also have custom orthotics (molded shoe inserts) made that will slip into your shoe. These orthotics are custom-designed to prevent your foot from rolling and provide extra heel support. They are made with a prescription from your podiatrist.
3. Over-the-counter medications
Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications can help you relieve heel pain and discomfort. Examples of anti-inflammatory medications include the following:
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- naproxen sodium/naproxen (Aleve)
By reducing tissue inflammation, these medicines can help to prevent further damage. However, you shouldn’t take anti-inflammatory medications if you have kidney problems or a history of stomach bleeding and ulcers.
While OTC acetaminophen may help to relieve pain, it does not have the same anti-inflammatory properties as the other medications.
Stretches for the calf and surrounding muscles as well as the plantar fascia can help to reduce strain and pressure on the heel spur. Some helpful stretches include:
Cryoultrasound therapy combines the application of electromagnetic energy and cold therapy to relieve pain. The machine looks like a large wand that is moved over the foot and ankle. Research has found that Cryoultrasound therapy is an efficient treatment option for people with plantar fasciitis who also have heel spurs. Podiatrists and physical therapists often provide this therapy.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, your doctor will usually only recommend surgery for a heel spur if conservative methods like those above have failed. A variety of surgical procedures and approaches exist. The most common approach is to detach the plantar fascia ligament from the heel bone and remove the heel spur with special tools. This reduces pressure from the plantar fascia and removes the heel spur.
Nerve damage is a significant risk factor associated with the procedure. It’s also possible for the heel spur to come back after surgery. After the procedure, it can be several weeks until you can start to walk more normally and with less heel pain.
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