What is a heel spur?
A heel spur – also commonly called an Achilles spur, foot spur or plantar spur – is a bony growth at the underside of the heel bone. The underlying cause of foot spurs on the heel is a common condition called “Plantar Fasciitis”. This is Latin for inflammation of the plantar fascia. (Check out our video here). This tendon forms the arch of the foot, starting at the heel and running to the ball of the foot. Plantar Fasciitis is a persistent and painful condition. Interestingly, in some people, a heel spur on the back of the heel has been present for a long time, but no pain is felt for years until one day the pain suddenly appears ‘out of nothing’.
Heel spurs are characterised by a sharp pain under the heel when getting out of bed in the morning or getting up after sitting for a period of time. Walking around for a while often helps reduce the pain, turning it into a dull ache. However, sports, running or walking long distance makes the condition worse. In some cases, swelling around the foot spurs on the heel may be present.
What are the main causes?
The main cause of heel spurs is an excessive strain placed on the plantar fascia over a long period of time, as a result of different factors. These factors may include:
- Incorrect gait
- Being overweight
- Being in a job that requires a lot of standing on hard floors
- Poorly fitted or badly worn shoes
- Running or jogging on hard surfaces
It is usually a combination of any of these factors that will bring on the development of heel spurs.
Who is affected?
Everyone can be affected by heel spur pain; however, certain groups of people have an increased risk. For example, Plantar Fasciitis is a common running injury. People who walk a lot are much more likely to have heel spurs or people who play golf or play tennis. Over-weight people are also more at risk for heel bone spurs as our feet are not designed to carry around extra weight. As a result, the ligaments under the foot are placed under constant stress, which inevitably will lead to foot problems.
If you’re in a job that requires prolonged standing, you are more likely to develop heel spurs.
What to do?
Regarding heel spur treatment, rest is most important. Active sports, running, long walks etc. should be avoided to start with. If you’re in a job that requires a lot of standing, take a few days off work. Rest (or reduced activity) is essential to allow the inflammation from becoming aggravated, thereby providing heel spur pain relief.
Furthermore, you can use ice packs (placed on the heel for 5-10 minutes) to ‘cool down’ the inflamed area. You may take anti-inflammatory medication or apply a topical anti-inflammatory (i.e. a cream) to help reduce inflammation. In addition, there are some simple exercises that should be done daily to help relieve heel spur pain.
Orthotic treatment for heel spurs
The above measures only provide temporary relief. A heel spur can also be treated by wearing orthotic insoles inside the shoe. Orthotics are designed to correct incorrect gait, in particular over-pronation (rolling in of the foot and collapsing of the arches). Over-pronation is a very common foot condition, affecting at least half of the Australian population. It is a major contributing cause of heel spurs.
Introducing Footlogics spur treatment
Footlogics orthotics are very effective in that the device corrects the foot to its natural position. By supporting the arches properly and preventing excess rolling in of the foot, the plantar fascia is placed under much less strain and stress compared to an unsupported foot. Less strain on the ligament means less pulling away from the heel bone, allowing the inflammation to heal faster. In addition to orthotic spur treatment, most podiatrists and physiotherapists recommend a series of exercises to help make the ligaments in the feet and legs longer and more flexible. In turn, this will help reduce strain on the plantar fascia.
Recommended Footlogics orthotics for heel spur
For slip-on shoes (without lacing) the Footlogics Casual is most suitable. For lace-up shoes and work boots, we recommend the full-length Footlogics Plantar Fasciitis or the Footlogics Comfort. Footlogics Casual and Comfort orthotics are available from pharmacies across Australia, or can be purchased online or by phone: 1300 788 119. The Plantar Fasciitis is a new product, not yet available in pharmacies, only online or it can be ordered by phone. Your purchase comes with a 90-day Money-Back Guarantee. Please call us if you have any questions or queries about heel spurs and/or Footlogics orthotics. Footlogics Australia is registered with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) under the category ‘Medical Devices’. And we recently added a range of shoes to our collection of heel spur relief options.
Avoid bare-foot walking or flat thongs…
Research shows that wearing a sandal or thong with built-in arch support can be effective in the treatment of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. A contoured thong with proper arch support is as effective as an orthotic insole worn inside the shoe. Footlogics offers a range of orthotic thongs and sandals to help relieve and prevent heel spur pain. It is important to have your feet supported and cushioned when rising out of bed, first thing in the morning when heel pain is at its worst. Make sure you don’t walk barefoot on hard floors and tiles, instead slip on a pair of Tiki Girl or Footlogics Mens thongs and increase your chances of recovery, ensuring your feet are always supported. Or you can choose from a range of orthotic shoes on this website.
NOTE: If pain persists, we recommend you consult a health professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Visit the Australian Podiatrists Association to find your local podiatrist.