Heel spurs: The hooked and bony outgrowth at the base of the calcaneus (from Latin ‘Calcanium’ meaning human heel) heel bone caused by Calcium deposits on the underside of the heel is called Heel Spur.In medical terms this is called “Heel Spur Syndrome”.
These bony protrusions, often extending by half an inch at the base of your heel can cause extreme discomfort or pain because of their tendency to jab continuously at the soft base tissues and the fatty tissues beneath your heel.So if you feel a continuous cutting pain in your heels while taking the first steps in the morning or while walking, then probably you are suffering from a Heel spur and need the advice of a medical practitioner.
Who are prone to heel spurs?
This abnormal growth is mostly common in people over 40 years of age but there are certain stimulating factors that can cause heel spur to any one around:
- Suffering from a foot problem from an early age that makes walking uneven and distorted, puts excess pressure on your heels causing heel spurs.
- It is often attributed to Planar Fasciitis(a severe inflamation of the ‘fascia’ ligament that binds the heel to the toes) or due to something deeper such as Artharitis(joint inflammation).
- Some people I have seen are so comfortable in flip-flops that they are always wearing one wherever they go to. . This can also cause heel spurs.Try shifting to well-fitted comfortable shoes. Remember if you invest in good shoes now, you can avoid these unnecessary feet problems for your whole life-time.
- Involving in sudden exercises that puts severe pressure on the heels or standing on your feet for long hours or walking .
- Wearing high-heel shoes or cheap quality shoes that donot provide the optimum support needed to your feet.
- Last but not the least, obesity. Excess body weight puts too mcuh pressure on your feet, your heels and your knees. Also, there are uncountable health issues related to excess fat which I guess you alraedy know about, one of them being Heel spurs.
- But thankfully, there are easy,less costly and effective ways to tackle this problem.
Symptoms of heel spurs:
Although in many cases, heel spurs cause no symptoms, others have reported a chronic and intermittant pain, a rather sharp one, while jogging, running or walking. Some people describe the pain as the feeling you get when a sharp knife sticks to your heel. When you wake up in the morning and your feet touches the ground for the first time, you feel a sharp pain as if a pin is sticking on your heel. Symptoms, may also include inflammation in the heel area and warming up of your heels.These symptoms may spread to the arch of your foot. Eventually, a small bony protrusion may be visible. In case of symptoms, you should go to your doctor immediately and get an X-ray done for diagnosis.
Treatment of Heel Spurs:
Heel spur treatment is usually NON-SURGICAL. These include:
- Take REST from your daily activities and retire from walking and working too much for some days because giving rest to your feet will control the condition from worsening. Also, recovery can be slow if you continue walking.
- Applying ICE on the affected heel for a prolonged time will numb the area and reduce the swelling, leading to reduction in pain. Use this cold compress method for at least 15 minutes a day to get some relief.
- STRETCHING EXERCISES are known to be one of the best solutions but you should ensure that you donot exaggerate too much and stretch all your muscles to have good balance. Hence,its best to take the advice of your physician.
- MEDICINES , advised by your physician, can give you relief. Acetaminophen(Tylenol), Aleve, Ibuprofen(Advil) are usually the ones prescribed by the doctors in this line. However, these medicines may carry side –effects.In many cases, a functional orthotic device can correct the causes of heel and arch pain such as biomechanical imbalances. In some cases, injection with a corticosteroid may be done to relieve inflammation in the area.
- TAPING or STRAPPING the affected heel may reduce pain but should be done only by practised hands.
⦁ Using SPECIAL SHOES recommended by doctors such as Z-coil shoes gives relief from pain. Also, Orthotic shoe inserts are some artificial braces which looks like heel pads gives proper support to the heel and can be used to prevent further wear and tear of tissues. These should be used along side, proper shoes for complete protection.
Almost 90 percent of the patients suffering from heel spurs get well after administering all the non-surgical treatments for about 9 to 12 months. If not, then surgery is essential to restore normal movement. Surgery includes removing the bony outgrowth or release of the plantar fascia but this method can be really costly.
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PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE:
Remember one thing: You have the privilege of wearing cheap clothes but never cheap shoes! Because the damage caused is too expensive to pay for! We can always avoid heel spurs by wearing well-fitting good quality shoes which provides adequate support to your feet. Regular exercises, stretching exercises specifically and loosing weight in case you are over-weight can prevent heel spurs. Always give rest to your feet at the end of the tiring days; you can keep your feet dipped in water diluted with essential oil or massage your feet with essential oil mixed with carrier oil. Some essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties that you can use are Eucalyptus, Lavender, Thyme, Sesame, Orange etc.
Heel spurs can be a common problem after a certain age and can even arise in youngsters as well but we have a variety of ways to treat them and also we can prevent them . Thank you and Have a nice day!