What Does a Heel Spur Look Like?
When our body is considered, it is clear that one single bone takes a whole lot of pressure on a daily basis. That is the heel bone, which is also the reason for such a common occurrence of various heel spurs symptoms. The heel is a part of the largest bone within a human foot. Considering the fact that it carries a variety of weights and enables proper walking, it is logical that even the smallest problem in weight or even a type of shoe might provoke heel spurs symptoms. The first thing to notice is any abnormality considering the size of the heel bone.
If it grows much more than it is usual, persons will usually be diagnosed with heel spurs symptoms. This might be quite a painful condition, due to the fact our heel is rather important whether we walk, stand or simply have a shoe on the foot. A condition called plantar fasciitis is sometimes mistaken for heel spurs symptoms. The fact is, these two medical issues are truly related since most people who suffer from plantar will suffer from heel spurs symptoms. As for the heel, the confirmation of symptoms needs an X-ray medical check and doctors diagnose.
Although there is some disagreement about exactly what causes a heel spur, no one who has this condition has any doubt that it’s painful. Further complicating matters is the fact that treatments for this painful foot condition are many and varied with differing degrees of effectiveness. So, finding out as much as you can about it is the first step toward finding the best treatment for you and your particular situation.
What is a Heel Spur?
Usually, a heel spur, also called a calcaneal spur, is a bony calciferous growth on the forward area of the heel, or calcaneus, bone just above, or superior to, the plantar fascia insertion on the heel bone (although less often a spur can occur on the bottom or back of the heel bone). The plantar fascia is the fibrous ligament that runs from the heel to the toes on the underside of the foot and is responsible for maintaining the arch. The formation of spurs is usually attributed to irritation and inflammation of this ligament, especially at its insertion at the heel. It’s just your body’s way of trying to protect an irritated area.
What happens is that over time, in response to the irritation and inflammation, a calcium deposit builds up in the shape of a forward-pointing hook. The pain involved in this condition is a result of the heel spur protruding into the ligament and surrounding soft tissue.
Heel Spur Symptoms
The spur itself does not hurt; rather, it’s the way the spur affects the surrounding tissues that do. Heel spur pain is generally characterized by a sharp poking sensation. The pain is usually at its worst early in the morning or after long periods of rest. It often decreases with walking or exercise because the capillaries and nerves adjust to the spur.
Heel spurs symptoms can appear for no reason. They can also be provoked by excessive jogging. It is also noticed in persons who stand most of their working hours, such as cashiers, teachers and similar. Naturally, the heel being the bone supporting the entire body, it is logical that heel spurs symptoms will be related to people with excess in weight. Heel pains and symptoms are also related to the constant wearing of high heeled shoes. Most women will say they feel more comfortable in high heels but they actually feel taller and slimmer while their own heels suffer from the unnatural position.
Another group of people who are related to heel spurs symptoms are those, who already have a predisposition or already developed arthritis or various kinds of back pain. Basically, whatever is related to human backbone will have an effect on human feet. It will especially reflect on heels as a heel spurs symptoms. From young to middle-aged and old, there are not many age groups which are an exception to this medical issue. Athletes are practically predisposed to it because of their over-usage of feet while running or jumping more than frequently. The best cure ever is definitely resting one’s feet regularly on a level higher than the rest of the body. Rolling an empty bottle with bare feet is also excellent exercise and prevention from such problem.
Heel Spur Causes
There is no single identifiable cause of this condition, but it does often develop after prolonged stress and strain on the plantar fascia. And it can be exacerbated when you walk barefoot, walk on hard surfaces, or carry heavy objects. Here are some of the common risk factors associated with developing spurs:
- Being over age 40
- Undergoing sudden weight gain
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes with little support
- Having abnormal foot motion or misalignment of the foot
While a heel spur is related to plantar fasciitis, it still remains something different. Some people who suffer from plantar fasciitis don’t have spurs. About 70% of people who have plantar fasciitis also have a heel spur, and nearly 50% of those with a spur display no symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
It used to be thought that spurs were caused by plantar fasciitis and that they developed at the plantar fascia’s insertion at the heel. Now, however, there is a growing consensus that this may not be the case. Still, many specialists maintain that there is no real need to distinguish between the two conditions because non-surgical treatments for both are basically the same.
Heel Spur Treatment
Heel spur treatments range from merely relieving symptoms to removing the source of pain, from simply resting to the extreme measure of surgery. Below are some of the more common treatments, from conservative to invasive:
- Rest – Just getting weight off the affected foot for extended periods lessens the pain and allows inflammation to subside and healing to begin.
- Ice packs and massage – Applying ice packs also helps with the inflammation, which is often the cause of the spur, and massage lessens pain and promotes healing.
- Stretching exercises – Stretching loosens tight calf muscles and a taut plantar fascia and thus helps with pain and healing.
- NSAIDs – NSAIDs like ibuprofen can alleviate the pain and decrease spur-associated inflammation.
- Proper footwear – Wearing proper footwear provides needed arch support, especially for people involved in athletics.
- Orthotics – Orthotic shoe inserts have been proven to help with this condition by providing relief from pain and assisting with improper foot alignment.
- Silicone heel cups – The use of heel cups is effective for morning pain and helps provide support.
- Night splints – Rigid boot-like splints, worn while you sleep, help by immobilizing and stretching the plantar fascia.
As a last resort, you can consider surgery to remove a heel spur. But foot surgeries can be extremely painful, and there’s always a risk of unintended nerve damage. Just make sure you have sufficient information to enable you to make the right decision for your treatment.