A few quick misconceptions about heel spurs:
- That they have to be cut out for the pain to go away.
- That they are digging into your flesh.
- That they are due to a “stone bruise”.
In fact, if we took one hundred people off the street and took x-rays ten would have heels spurs with no pain. This should tell us that heel spurs are fairly common and are not always painful. At Sowell, Podiatry we are very good at ending your heel pain without surgery.
The band that runs along the bottom of the foot from your heel to the ball of the foot is called the plantar fascia. To find your plantar fascia, simply lift your big toe and the plantar fascia will typically “pooch” out along the arch on the bottom of your foot. The swelling of this band is our focus in this article and is called plantar fasciitis. Patients with plantar fasciitis often have pain upon rising from a chair, getting out of the car or during the first few steps of the day.
Plantar fasciitis is often caused by poor foot mechanics. If your foot flattens out too much the fascia may overstretch and swell and if your foot is very high arched the fascia may be too tight and ache. Additionally, many activities can injure your plantar fascia leading to irritation along it. Chronic pulling of the plantar fascia with concurrent swelling can lead to the condition commonly known as a heel spur.
Physical examination of the foot can reveal if plantar fasciitis and a good understanding of foot mechanics will often lead to a determination as to why it is present. X-rays are required to diagnose a heel spur. The presence of a heel spur is a good indicator that the plantar fascia has been under increased tension for an extended period.
Reducing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can include many things:
- Ice. We recommend rolling a frozen water bottle under the bottom of the foot.
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- Controlling foot motion with insoles and shoes.
- Starting a stretching program to reduce tension on the area.
Occasionally plantar fasciitis and heel spurs require surgery but typically they can be addressed with conservative measures. We are very successful in treating this condition and we can often return patients back to a pain free active lifestyle in just a few visits.