The Truth About Heel Spurs!

What is The Truth About Heel Spurs

Many of us have heard the term “heel spur” before.

As a brief definition: Heel spurs are a build up of calcium which protrudes from the heel bone, towards the toes that are visible onx-ray.

Usually the name will conjure up images of sharp pain digging into the bottom of the heel like a large nail. Causing the victim to limp and generally be in extreme discomfort.

But what if I was to tell you that most of the people with heel spurs are not currently in pain?

Or that there are many people walking around who have no idea that they even have a heel spur?


Many of us have heard the term “heel spur” before.

As a brief definition: Heel spurs are a build up of calcium which protrudes from the heel bone, towards the toes that are visible onx-ray.

An x-ray showing a plantar heel spur

 

Usually the name will conjure up images of sharp pain digging into the bottom of the heel like a large nail. Causing the victim to limp and generally be in extreme discomfort.

But what if I was to tell you that most of the people with heel spurs are not currently in pain?

Or that there are many people walking around who have no idea that they even have a heel spur?

Or if I said that the cause of really sharp heel pain is more often caused by inflammation in the tissue around the heel spur, and not necessarily a heel spur itself?

Well all of these statements have been proven to be true.

Heel spurs, rather than a common cause of heel pain, are more often the result of chronic heel pain and inflammation in the plantar fascial band that stretches from the bottom of the heel to the front of the foot and acts like a spring.

What Causes Heel Spurs?

Heel spurs have many different causes, but most of them are conditions that cause extra stress on the heel bone and the soft tissue structures that surround it.

They include:

  • Footwear with poor cushioning or poor support,
  • A sudden increase in activity rather than a gradual increase,
  • High body mass index, or obesity,
  • Poor Biomechanics (the angles of our joints can put more pressure on specific anatomy),
  • Chronic health conditions including diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and connective tissue disorders.

So What Does This Mean?

It means that whilst heel spurs are a problem and are associated with the whole inflammatory process that causes pain in the heel, the heel spur itself is often not the main focus of treatment.

Furthermore, it is not necessary to get rid of heel spurs in order to remove the pain.

In fact heel pain surgery is very rarely performed (in Australia) these days as the outcomes have been mixed.

What has been found to work well are offloading methods, soft tissue therapies, and anti-inflammatories both topical and oral.

Which Treatments are Effective?

  • Massage,
  • Footwear advice (for a guide to running shoes click here),
  • Anti-inflammatory medications both topical and oral
  • Stretching of posterior chain muscles (including the calves (gastrocnemius and soleus), hamstrings and gluteal muscles)
A pair of Asics Running Shoes
  • Strengthening of muscles that support the arch – for more on strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot click here.
  • Dry needling,
  • Shockwave therapy,
  • Custom foot orthotics for offloading.

If heel spurs, plantar fasciitis or other types of heel pain are getting in the way of you living the active life you enjoy, let us help you get pain-free.

Call 3351 8878 or book online here. 

A family of three generations are walking together on a beach
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