Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are bony growths that form on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs can cause pain and discomfort, especially when walking or standing.

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Heel Spurs
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Your Guide to Understanding Heel Spurs

What is Heel Spurs?

Heel spurs, also known as calcaneal spurs, are abnormal bony growths that develop on the underside of the heel bone. They are often associated with a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation of the plantar fascia - a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. The plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch of the foot.

Heel spurs typically develop as a result of repetitive strain or irritation of the plantar fascia. This can be caused by activities that put excessive stress on the foot, such as running, jumping, or prolonged standing. Over time, the repeated pulling on the plantar fascia can lead to small tears and inflammation, causing the body to respond by forming calcium deposits, or spurs, at the site of the damage.The presence of heel spurs does not always cause pain or discomfort. In fact, many people may have heel spurs without even knowing it. However, when the spurs become large or when they press against surrounding tissues, they can cause symptoms such as sharp pain in the heel, especially when walking or standing for long periods. The pain is often described as a stabbing sensation that radiates from the bottom of the heel towards the arch of the foot.

Treatment for heel spurs aims to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. This typically involves a combination of conservative measures such as rest, ice therapy, stretching exercises, and wearing supportive footwear with cushioned insoles. Over-the-counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be recommended to manage pain and reduce inflammation. In severe cases where conservative treatments do not provide relief, more invasive options like corticosteroid injections or surgery may be considered.

How can Chiropractic help treat Heel Spurs?

Chiropractic services offer a holistic approach to alleviate the pain associated with heel spurs. Chiropractors can assess the function of the foot and ankle joints to identify any underlying issues that may contribute to heel spur formation.

Through gentle adjustments and mobilizations, they can help restore proper joint function, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pressure on the affected area. Additionally, chiropractors may recommend specific exercises and stretches to strengthen the surrounding muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall foot mechanics. By addressing the root causes of heel spurs, chiropractic care can provide effective pain relief and improve mobility.

What causes Heel Spurs?

Heel spurs are typically caused by repetitive strain or irritation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Activities that put excessive stress on the foot, such as running, jumping, or prolonged standing, can contribute to the development of heel spurs.

When the plantar fascia is repeatedly pulled and stretched, it can lead to small tears and inflammation. In response to this damage, the body forms calcium deposits, or spurs, at the site of the injury. These bony growths can develop on the underside of the heel bone over time.

Other factors that may contribute to the development of heel spurs include wearing ill-fitting or unsupportive footwear, having flat feet or high arches, being overweight or obese, and aging, as the natural cushioning of the foot tends to decrease with age. It's important to note that while these factors can increase the risk of developing heel spurs, they may not always be the sole cause, and individual cases can vary.

What treatments might help Heel Spurs?

Treatment for heel spurs aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve overall foot function. Here are some common treatment options that may help improve heel spurs:

  • Rest and ice: Taking a break from activities that aggravate the heel spur and applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with heel spurs. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.
  • Orthotic devices: Custom-made orthotic inserts or shoe modifications can provide support and cushioning to the foot, redistributing pressure and reducing strain on the heel.
  • Physical therapy: Specific exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles and tendons in the foot, improve flexibility, and reduce pain associated with heel spurs.
  • Footwear modifications: Wearing shoes with good arch support, cushioning, and a proper fit can help alleviate pressure on the heel and provide additional comfort.
  • Epsom salt soaks: Soaking the feet in warm water with Epsom salt can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from heel spur discomfort.

Signs of Heel Spurs:

The signs of heel spurs can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Heel pain: The most prominent sign of heel spurs is pain in the bottom of the heel. The pain is often described as a sharp or stabbing sensation that may worsen after periods of rest or when taking the first steps in the morning.
  • Pain with activity: Physical activities that put pressure on the heel, such as walking, running, or jumping, can intensify the pain associated with heel spurs. The pain may also increase after prolonged periods of standing.
  • Tenderness and inflammation: The affected area of the heel may feel tender to the touch and appear slightly swollen or red. This tenderness and inflammation are caused by the irritation of the plantar fascia and surrounding tissues.
  • Difficulty bearing weight: As the heel spur progresses, it can become increasingly uncomfortable to put weight on the affected foot. Walking or standing for extended periods may become challenging due to the pain and discomfort.

Symptoms of Heel Spurs:

The symptoms of heel spurs can vary from person to person, but common signs include:

  • Pain in the heel: The most common symptom is pain in the bottom of the heel. It is often described as a sharp or stabbing sensation. The pain may be worse in the morning when taking the first steps, and it can also intensify after long periods of rest or activity.
  • Discomfort when walking or standing: Activities that put pressure on the heel, such as walking or standing for extended periods, can cause discomfort and make the pain worse. Some people may find it difficult to bear weight on the affected foot.
  • Tenderness and swelling: The area around the heel spur may feel tender to the touch. Inflammation and slight swelling can occur as a result of the irritation of the surrounding tissues.
  • Radiating pain: In some cases, the pain from the heel spur can radiate to other parts of the foot, such as the arch or the ball of the foot.
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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Heel Spurs?

The right time to see a chiropractor for heel spurs is when you experience persistent or worsening pain in your heel or foot that is interfering with your daily activities. If you notice symptoms such as sharp, stabbing pain in the heel, pain that worsens with walking or standing, or difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot, it may be a good time to seek professional help.

It is also advisable to consult a healthcare professional if you have tried home remedies such as rest, ice, stretching, and supportive footwear, but have not found relief from your symptoms. These healthcare professionals can provide a comprehensive assessment, diagnose the cause of your heel pain, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Furthermore, if you have a history of foot or ankle injuries, or if you have underlying conditions such as flat feet, high arches, or obesity that may increase your risk of developing heel spurs, it may be beneficial to seek early intervention and preventive care from these practitioners.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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