As a runner, you train your body to handle stress and push through when the hills get high and the miles stretch on. But sometimes injury and inflammation can stop you in your tracks. Heel spurs are one such painful condition.
What Are Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are extraneous growth at the base of the heel bone. Repeated stress on the heel causes a buildup of calcium to deposit and form a bone-like protrusion out from the heel bone toward the sole of the foot. Inflammatory conditions such as plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the plantar fascia that runs across the base of the foot) can affect the formation of a heel spur. Other risk factors include wearing shoes that don’t support and cushion your foot well, especially when walking or running consistently. Heel spurs grow slowly, and typically don’t cause pain until they are larger. Patients often describe heel pain as sharp or stabbing and may also experience swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area.
When to See a Doctor
Heel spurs can only be officially diagnosed by x-ray. If you are experiencing chronic or acute heel pain, especially during strenuous activity, contact Best Foot Doctor NY for a consultation.
Treatment for Heel Spurs
Treatment for heel spurs will be symptom-driven. Common anti-inflammatory treatments include over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, icing the affected area for 15 minutes at a time, and resting.
Treatment for Runners
You may be instructed to change your running routine and focus on other physical activities that keep you off your feet. It will take time for the inflammation surrounding the heel spur to subside, so be patient and follow the direction of your physician. Talk to your doctor about your current routine and how you can adjust it to get the rest that your feet need.
Chronic or acute inflammation sometimes responds well to corticosteroid injections. You may also benefit from physical therapy, gentle stretches, and exercises to do at home. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for custom foot orthotics. These support and cushion your heel and the rest of the foot.
Surgery for Heel Spurs
While surgery is not the first option for heel spurs, if you are experiencing long-term pain, you and your doctor should discuss the merits of surgery. A heel spur surgery usually includes a plantar fasciotomy–disconnecting the plantar fascia from the heel bone. At the same time, the surgeon can remove the heel spur.
Heel spur surgery will require several weeks of non-weight bearing recovery time and then careful physical therapy and gradual return to activities. But, after surgery patients report decreased pain and increased mobility. Heel spurs can return after surgery, so you will need to take precautions such as wearing supportive shoes and limiting activities that continue to cause heel pain.
If you are experiencing heel pain, evaluate what triggers it and adjust your activity accordingly. Contact our experts at Best Foot Doctor NY today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and let us help you perform at your best.