Common Causes of Heel Spurs and What to Do About Them

An estimated 1 in 10 people has a heel spur, which is a bone-like protrusion that forms between the heel and arch of the foot. Not everyone with heel spurs has pain, but about 5% of people experience discomfort that can range from a constant, dull ache to a sharp pain when standing.

Bone spurs develop over time, generally due to stress on the feet and certain lifestyle factors. Bone spurs that aren’t painful may not require treatment, but foot pain can limit your ability to participate in normal activities.

If you’re bothered by recurring heel or foot pain, it’s time to make an appointment with an expert. David B. Glover, DPM, FACFAS, and our team at Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute specialize in diagnosing and treating heel spurs and related issues, such as plantar fasciitis.

What causes heel spurs?

Heel spurs are calcium deposits that develop on the underside of your heel bone. They form slowly with repeated stress on the heel, often growing over a period of several months. Heel spurs range in size and shape, but they can grow to be nearly half an inch long.

Some of the most common causes of heel spurs are:

Certain gait abnormalities may also increase your risk of developing heel spurs. If you take steps in a way that increases stress on your heel bone, ligaments, or nearby nerves, you could be more likely to develop heel spurs.

Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It develops when the plantar fascia — the thick band of tissue that stretches from your heel to your toes — gets inflamed.

Heel spurs don’t cause plantar fasciitis, but these two conditions often occur together. If you have plantar fasciitis, there’s a good chance that you may also have heel spurs. In these cases, the best way to address your pain is by treating the plantar fasciitis.

Treatments for heel spurs

Dr. Glover generally diagnoses heel spurs following a physical exam and medical imaging tests, such as X-rays. More than 90% of people with heel spurs find that nonsurgical treatment improves their condition.

Depending on your symptoms and your lifestyle, Dr. Glover develops a treatment plan that fits your needs. A few possible treatments that may reduce heel spur pain include:

Heel spur pain that doesn’t resolve with conservative treatment may require surgery. Dr. Glover may recommend surgery if you’ve had symptoms for 9-12 months without relief. Surgery could involve removing the heel spur or releasing tension in the plantar fascia.

Even if you don’t have foot pain, it’s important to stretch before physical activity. Warming up the muscles and ligaments in your feet can help prevent injury and the development of chronic issues, such as heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

If you have a heel spur or suspect you do, help is just a call or click away. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute today.

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