As one of your crucial supporting bones, heels absorb a lot of pressure. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to balance or stand upright. However, since each heel supports so much weight and force with every step you take, it can be prone to painful issues like heel spurs.
A Little Extra Heel Bone
A heel spur is an excess calcium deposit on the underside of your calcaneus, or heel bone. This extra bone growth is usually a small, pointed protrusion that develops from the strain of chronic plantar fasciitis. As your irritated plantar fascia—a long, fibrous supporting band attached to your heel—pulls on the bone, your body responds to the stress by increasing the hard tissue in that area. Some people can develop them and not experience any additional symptoms. Others, however, find the protrusion creates pain, especially when putting pressure on the heel.
Since this condition is connected to plantar fasciitis, the symptoms are generally the same. You feel a sharp pain underneath your heel, especially when you first stand in the morning or you rise after sitting for an extended period of time. Pressure on your heels from standing for a long time, or repeated impacts from walking or running, may be uncomfortable as well.
A number of underlying problems can lead to heel spurs. Any excess strain that leads to plantar fasciitis can result in bony protrusions as well. Poorly-fitted shoes can stress the ligament, aggravating the heel bone. Flat feet are particularly prone to the problem, but sometimes overly-high arches can influence the condition, too.
The older you get, the more likely you are to develop this condition. Your plantar fascia stiffens with age, making it more prone to injuries. Your naturally fatty padding thins out as well, making the heel bone more vulnerable. Diabetes, obesity, and poor fitness also increase your risks for a bone spur. The longer the issue goes unaddressed, too, the harder it is to relieve your discomfort.
Restoring Healthy Heels
Fortunately, this condition can be managed using mostly conservative measures. Only occasionally does anyone need to have the spur surgically removed. Managing the source of the stress on your plantar fascia reduces the strain and relieves the discomfort in the bone. You’ll need to have your heel carefully examined to identify the causes contributing to your condition. Dr. Sanjay Patel and our expert staff will use X-rays to identify the spur, then determine what treatments will best help your pain.
You may need to change your footwear or add custom orthotics to help reduce the pressure on your heels. Stretches to help release and relax the plantar fascia can also relieve the strain. Icing the heel will reduce some of the inflammation and offer relief that way. If your heel pain is chronic, some non-surgical treatments like shockwave therapy or injections of anti-inflammatory medications may help. If your heel isn’t responding to the conservative therapies, you may need surgery to release the plantar fascia and clip off the bone spur.
Heel spurs can make an already uncomfortable problem with heel pain worse for your feet. You don’t have to resign yourself to the problem, though. With some time and investing in your foot health, you can eliminate the pain from this condition without surgery. Don’t wait until an invasive procedure is your only option for relief; contact Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. here in Milford and Hamden, CT, to schedule an appointment. Call—203-876-7736 for the Milford location, or 203-288-4055 for the Hamden office—or fill out our contact form to reach us.