3 Conservative Therapies for Treating Heel Spurs

A heel spur is a bone-like growth that can cause pain and even make it uncomfortable to walk or run. The spur is a calcium deposit that forms on the underside of your heel bone, and it can grow to be up to half an inch in length.

Heel spurs often develop over many months. Stress from repetitive walking or running and wearing unsupportive shoes are two common causes of heel spurs, but they can also develop as a result of standing for long periods, excess body weight, arthritis, genetics, or gait issues.

Plantar fasciitis, another common cause of foot pain, is closely related to heel spurs. Heel spurs can exist without pain, but plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that occurs when the band of tissue connecting your heel to your toes becomes inflamed. Plantar fasciitis pain and heel spur pain can be similar, and it may take professional diagnosis or X-rays to treat accurately.

Hoosier Foot & Ankle’s highly trained team of podiatrists can evaluate your foot pain and find a treatment plan that works for you — surgery is a last resort. Heel spurs can be painful and impact your active lifestyle, but with these top conservative treatment strategies, you can find relief and get back to enjoying life.

1. Stretching

Specialized stretches target your heel and plantar fascia to relax the muscles and relieve pain. Stretching when you first wake up or when you go to bed can significantly ease foot pain due to heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

Your podiatrist can recommend a stretching routine to target your heel pain, or you can work with a physical therapist to get started. Foot stretches are often simple but very effective in treating this type of pain.

Warming up before exercising and cooling down after a workout helps reduce your risk of injury and helps prevent inflammation. Using cold compresses after exercising or being on your feet for long periods can manage inflammation and pain associated with heel spurs.

2. Shoe inserts

If you suffer from heel spurs or plantar fasciitis, shoe inserts or custom orthotics can correct the cause of your pain. Orthotics realign your foot and correct biomechanical imbalances.

Shoe inserts may give you cushioning and arch support to take extra pressure off of your heels. Custom orthotic inserts are crafted for you from a cast made of your feet. They address more severe biomechanical issues and may eliminate the need for more invasive treatment for your heel spur.

3. Anti-inflammatory medications

Heel spur pain can be caused by the bony deposit rubbing against the soft tissue inside your foot, which leads to inflammation. Taking over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen can reduce inflammation in your heel.

If over-the-counter medications and other conservative measures don’t relieve your heel spur pain after a few months, the Hoosier Foot & Ankle team might recommend a corticosteroid injection. The injection at the source of your pain works to help ease pain and reduce inflammation in the heel and arch of your foot.

Most cases of heel spur pain can be resolved in a few weeks or months with these conservative therapies. Wearing supportive footwear and stretching regularly can help manage heel spur pain and prevent spurs from worsening. In more serious cases, surgery might be necessary to remove the bone spur and repair damaged tissue to treat the pain.

To learn more about your heel spur treatment options, schedule a consultation with the podiatrists at Hoosier Foot & Ankle. Call the office nearest you, or request an appointment online today.

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