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Heel Pain: Causes and Treatment

 

Heel pain and heel spurs

Heel spurs are synonymous with pain and discomfort. Depending on the severity of the spur, however, the pain can range from mild to very severe. You also do not have to be an athlete, dancer, or someone that is consistently on their feet to contract this common foot ailment. In fact, over 40% of the U.S. population suffers from heel spurs and pain. This is especially true for people with flat feet that have a difficult time with walking and mobility. To effectively diagnose and treat heel spurs, you must first understand what they are.

Heel spurs are commonly associated with plantar fasciitis. The latter is a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective issue, which runs along the bottom of the foot. This tissue (plantar fascia) connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot. While slight heel spurs are generally painless, more extensive spurs can cause radiating pains that can be unbearable at times. This is especially true if the inflammation of the tissue is in large amounts. Heel spurs also tend to get worse if the sufferer is overweight or obese. While heel pain can vary, there are effective ways to treat this common issue.
 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

There are a few common symptoms associated with heel spurs. This, of course, includes intermittent or chronic pain. At times, sufferers may be unable to properly walk or maintain a steady balance. The pain can later manifest itself into a dull ache, which can still prevent people from walking, jogging, running, or performing daily tasks and chores. According to health experts, sharp pains can emanate from the bottom of the feet at any given time. This, however, is mainly associated with sufferers that stand up after sitting for an extended period of time.

To effectively diagnose heel spurs, you need to get an x-ray, bone scan, or MRI done. The latter is for more extreme cases, which may also pick up bone chips or other ailments related to the lower legs. While you can speak to your primary care physician, he or she is most likely to refer you to a podiatrist or foot specialist. With years of experience, these experts can precisely diagnose the issue, while offering a myriad of treatment options and solutions. If not treated in a timely and professional manner, heel spurs can be a lifelong issue that can pose a number of problems for new and existing sufferers.
 

Treatment and Relief

While heel spurs are common among athletes, they can affect people of all ages. This is especially true for those that:

  • Consistently run or job on hard surfaces.
  • Wear poorly fitted shoes with lack of proper padding and support.
  • Are obese, overweight, or have other existing foot, ankle, and leg problems.
  • Are getting on in the years, which naturally decrease plantar fascia flexibility. This results in a thinner protective fat pad in the heels.
  • Suffer from diabetes, flat feet, or high arches.
  • Spend most of their day on their feet without adequate periods of rest.


While heel spurs occur due to calcium deposits that build up on the underside of the bone, they are also caused by excessive strain on the foot muscles and ligaments. These strains can lead to excessive pain over a period of time, which results in a higher accumulation of inflamed areas and other related problems. To restore proper functionality and mobility, there are several treatment options available. This includes exercise, along with custom made orthotics. Your foot specialist may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines and even cortisone injection shots. In worse case scenarios, corrective surgical procedures may also be needed.
 

Healing Time and Prevention

Since everyone is different, it is difficult to place an exact timetable on the healing process. Again, it depends on the severity of the inflammation and other factors. According to leading podiatrists, healing from heel pain and spurs can take several months. In less strenuous cases, however, healing can occur within days or weeks. To secure a professional and proper diagnosis, however, a foot specialist or podiatrist must be involved in the process. This is especially true if conventional pain relievers and medicines do not work. Before taking any medicine or treatment, you need to contact your primary care physician. He or she must also be involved in the treatment process from start to finish.

While heel spurs can occur to anyone at any given time, there are ways to prevent these issues from occurring. This includes curtailing high intensity workouts or exercise if pain is present or persistent. Wearing orthotics in your shoes also offers better balance, while allowing you to improve your stride and mobility. As always, eating a well balanced diet and consuming water can also help. You should also get plenty of rest and try avoiding activities that put unnecessary strain on the lower part of your legs. If needed, try soaking your feet in water after a hard day’s work. This helps improve the circulation in your feet, while soothing aching muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and even soles.
 

Foot Orthotics for Heel Pain and Spurs

Foot orthotics has been proven to help those suffering from heel pain and spurs. These are basically arch supports for shoes or sneakers, which help alleviate the pain and tension. People with flat feet can also benefit from wearing orthotics. The best part is that these supports can be custom made to meet your exact specifications and needs. If pressed for time, you can even purchase these items on the Internet or by contacting your local foot specialist or podiatrist. If you suffer from constant heel pain or spurs, there are several treatment options available. All it takes is a little “legwork” to find the best possible treatment option for you or a friend.
 

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