What Is A Heel Spur?
A heel spur (also known as a “calcaneal spur”) is a benign bony growth that protrudes forward on the underside of the heel bone. Although most people with a heel spur experience no symptoms at all, it can lead to pain, inflammation and swelling by the heel. It is also often associated with plantar fasciitis – a condition where the fibrous band on the sole of the foot becomes strained and inflamed.
That being said, heel spurs are usually not the cause of your pain but the reaction to the issue/condition at hand.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help manage the pain associated with heel spurs. Early treatment and care by a foot specialist can help relieve symptoms and prevent recurrences. If conservative measures fail, surgery may be indicated.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heel Spur?
More often than not, heel spurs are asymptomatic and will not cause pain. However, they may be associated with the following signs and symptoms:
- Heel pain with increased weight bearing activities such as walking, jogging, or running
- Heel swelling
- Calluses on the bottom of your heel (this is from the body’s attempt to provide extra padding over a protruding spur)
- Decreased foot mobility
For another common cause of heel pain see plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are a buildup of calcium deposits on the bottom of the heel bone caused by repetitive strain from attached ligaments, muscles, and the plantar fascia. This is a normal process that occurs when bone is exposed to stress, and is part of its natural way of “fortifying” itself.
Heel spurs are commonly caused by another foot condition called plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a fibrous band that runs underneath the foot between the heel and the toes. In a foot with plantar fasciitis, microtears form in the plantar fascia and it becomes inflamed. The effects of plantar fasciitis place excessive pressure and strain on the heel bone, which then triggers the formation of a heel spur.
The following conditions and activities place recurrent strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect to the heel bone, which can cause or contribute to heel spurs:
- Flat feet or pronated feet
- Activities such as running and jumping
- Other joint and muscle conditions that weaken and place excessive stress on the foot.
Because heel spurs are often caused by other foot conditions, it’s a good idea to see a foot specialist to diagnose and determine the cause of your heel spur, so you can find the best course of treatment.
How Do I Treat A Heel Spur?
Effective treatment of a heel spur involves managing the heel spur symptoms and addressing the condition that caused it in the first place. As plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel spurs, the treatment for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are similar (click here for more information about treating plantar fasciitis).
Heel spur treatment often includes:
- Stretching and strengthening exercises: You can view some helpful stretches here.
- Rest: This is usually done for the first few weeks of recovery.
- Properly fitted custom orthotics or orthopedic shoes: These will support the arches of your feet and reduce stress on the heel. Orthotics and orthopedic shoes also encourage proper biomechanical movement and gait, which, in combination with the arch support, can prevent recurrence.
- Over-the-counter insoles or modified insoles: The knowledgeable staff at our foot clinic can help you find insoles that properly support your arches and alleviate stress from the heel. We can also get you modified insoles that are customized especially for you and your unique foot needs.
- Taking ill-fitting footwear out of rotation
If you have persistent heel pain, schedule a diagnostic assessment with our own licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists). Use the booking form below or call 416-769-FEET(3338).
A foot specialist and the knowledgeable staff at our foot clinic can also fit you for orthotics and help you find footwear and supports that are perfectly tailored for your needs and activities.
Our Toronto foot clinic is open Monday to Friday from 9am-6pm and Saturdays from 9am-4pm. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our Foot clinic.
The following factors and existing foot conditions can increase your risk of developing a heel spur:
- Wearing poorly fitted, unsupportive footwear
- Having a tight plantar fascia
- Having plantar fasciitis
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Participating in high-impact sports that involve running and jumping
- Being overweight
All of the above cause recurrent strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect to the heel bone, which triggers the buildup of calcium deposits on the heel.
How Do I Prevent Heel Spurs?
Here are various foot care solutions that can help prevent heel spurs:
- Wear supportive shoes with good shock absorption and arch support. The knowledgeable staff at our foot clinic can help you find the shoes that best suit your needs and activities.
- Switch to lower-impact sports, like cycling or swimming
- Gradually ease into activities
- Routinely stretch your arches, Achilles tendons, and calves: You can read this article on exercises for preventing plantar fasciitis. You can also check out our Stretching Series on Pinterest for video demonstrations and infographics of stretches and exercises for healthy feet, ankles and calves.
Our foot clinic is open six days a week and offers a large selection of supportive and cushioning footwear.
Book an appointment for heel spur
You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic. Schedule an appointment by using the Appointment Request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).