Have you ever had searing pain in your heel? Does it feel like a knife goes into your heel when you take your first steps in the morning? Maybe you looked up your symptoms and discovered that it could be a bone spur.
Calcium can build up on any bone and cause a small protrusion, known as a bone spur. They are usually no more than half an inch long. When they appear on your heel, bone spurs can cause what’s known as “heel spur syndrome.”
Bone spurs often cause pain. The pain comes from irritation and inflammation of the surrounding tissue, causing plantar fasciitis. The pain can make it difficult to go about your daily life. If you have this kind of pain, be sure to learn all about your treatment options for bone spurs in the heel and how to prevent them from happening again.
What causes bone spurs on heels?
Bone spurs can form on the heel bone any time there is calcium buildup in the area. While we can’t predict bone spurs with perfect accuracy, research does show that there are certain risk factors that make someone more likely to develop a bone spur on their heel.
You may be at an increased risk for developing heel bone spurs if you:
- Have abnormalities in the way you walk
- Run or jog often, particularly on hard surfaces like concrete
- Are overweight or obese
- Live with diabetes
- Have arches that are either much flatter or much higher than average
- Spend most of your days on your feet
These risk factors are some of the most common causes, but there can be other explanations for your pain. If you are experiencing bone spurs without these conditions, discuss any changes in health or habits with your health practitioner to find a possible cause.
Prevention is the best medicine for bone spurs
While there are many effective treatments for bone spurs, prevention is the best medicine. You can keep heel bone spurs at bay by checking the following three boxes:
- Wear appropriate and well-fitting shoes for your activity.
- Stretch your feet and ankles before exercising.
- Consider shoes with shock-absorbing heels.
Testing and diagnosing bone spurs in the heel
The kind of pain that bone spurs in the heel can cause is alarming. It can feel like you’re being poked with a hot iron, and even simple tasks like walking make it worse. Try not to stress too much. With the right diagnosis and treatment, you can get back to your normal life quickly.
First, your podiatrist will want to make sure that it is a bone spur causing your pain. There are other problems that can mimic bone spurs of the heel. Getting the diagnosis right ensures that the doctor can prescribe the right bone spur heel treatment.
First and foremost, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, when they started, and if anything makes the pain worse or better. The podiatrist will then order an X-ray of the affected foot to look for the bone spur. Depending on what they learn from you and the imaging, they may order additional tests.
Choosing the right treatment for bone spurs in the heel
If your podiatrist sees a bone spur on the X-ray, they will talk to you about treatment options. There are both surgical and non-surgical options available to treat bone spurs on the heel. The right approach for you will depend on your comfort level, the severity of your symptoms, and other factors related to the spur itself.
Should I stay off my feet if I have a bone spur?
For most injuries to bones and tendons, medical advice will include rest. However, this is not the case for bone spurs in the heel. Often, going too long without putting pressure on the heel can make the pain worse. This is why most people feel the worst pain first thing in the morning.
Instead, you will want to make sure to stretch your feet and walk at least a little bit each day. How much you need to walk will depend on your unique needs. It’s important to talk to your doctor about resting or using your feet when you have a bone spur.
Non-surgical treatments for bone spurs in the heel
You don’t have to go under the knife to remove bone spur pain. Many non-surgical interventions can be effective without the inherent risks of surgery.
Non-surgical bone spur heel treatment options include:
- Physical therapy
- New, doctor-recommended shoes
- Custom insoles or other orthotic devices
- Daily stretches
- Special splints to wear at night
- Steroid injections
These treatments are successful for most patients. Your care plan will usually consist of more than one of these non-surgical treatments for bone spurs in the heel.
Surgery for bone spurs in the heel
Unfortunately, non-surgical interventions are not always successful. For persistent and painful bone spurs in the heel, surgery may be required. Your doctor may either remove the bone spur or release the tendon surrounding it in order to relieve pain.
After surgery, follow all of your instructions for recovery. Depending on the type of surgery, your post-surgical care may include:
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
- Splints or casts
- A walking device, such as a cane
By following the instructions, you can speed up your recovery time and get back to your life.
Treatment for heel bone spurs in Scottsdale, AZ
You don’t have to put up with pain in your heel. The podiatrists at Arizona Foot Doctors take a gentle approach to bone spurs. Our goal is to get you back on your feet without extreme measures like surgery. Contact us today to see how we can help.