Heel pain can be somewhat annoying or very debilitating. The pain can be sharp and can first surface when you get up out of bed in the morning, or when you stand up after sitting for a long time. The pain can hang around for a long time or can flare up when running, jogging or even walking.
Your heel pain may be caused by a heel spur. This calcium deposit may grow over many months to appear as a small bony protrusion on the bottom of your heel bone. This small growth – up to 1/2″ long – may not even cause pain, but it may also hurt so much that it can cause normal activities to be limited.
Heel spurs are most often associated with plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and attaches your heel bone to your toes. When this tissue is inflamed, painful plantar fasciitis can result.
What Causes Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are caused by the over-stretching of the plantar fascia but also can result from repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone, as well as from straining foot ligaments or muscles. You may have a higher risk of heel spurs if you:
- Wear shoes that are worn out or don’t fit quite right
- Are overweight
- Run on hard surfaces
- Walk with an abnormal gait that stretches the heel too much
- Enjoy activities with a lot of jumping or running
- Have diabetes
- Have flat feet or high arches
- Must stand for long periods on hard surfaces
Also, as we age, the heel’s protective fat pad naturally gets thinner and the flexibility of the plantar fascia lessens.
We Can Effectively Treat Heel Spurs
It’s most important to rest your foot if you have heel pain. If rest isn’t enough, please come in to see Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM. Our first treatment options will be conservative including:
- Changing shoes to those that are sturdy with extra shock absorption and cushioning.
- Gentle stretching exercises for the heel, foot and calf.
- Custom-fitted orthotics.
- Physical therapy.
- Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen – with your doctor’s permission – to relieve pain.
- Corticosteroid injections to ease inflammation.
If conservative treatments have no effect after some time, we’ll discuss surgery with you with the goal of removing the bone spur and releasing the plantar fascia.
Don’t Suffer from Heel Pain – We Can Help!
Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has extensive experience with foot and ankle injuries of all kinds, especially sports injuries. Many treatments and surgeries can be addressed right here in our office. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Don’t let heel pain keep you from your favorite activities – come in for an evaluation and quick, professional treatment.