If you have been experiencing jabbing or aching pains under your heels while getting up in the morning or walking around the house, you may be suffering from heel spurs. Also known as calcaneal spurs, heel spurs are pointy, hooked or shelf-shaped calcium build-ups on the heel bone. While the spurs themselves are not painful, their tendency to aggravate the fatty tissues of the heel can cause extreme discomfort.

Can heel spurs be prevented?

To proactively prevent the growth of heel spurs, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk, including:

  • Make a point to wear properly fitted footwear and try to avoid wearing shoes that have become worn down in the heel

  • Maintain a healthy weight to avoid excess amounts of pressure on your feet

  • Rest your feet and let them recover if you experience sharp pains throughout the day

  • Stretch before and after exercising

  • Replace shoes that have excessive wear and tear on the heels and soles

Symptoms of heel spurs

Stabbing or aching pain under the heel bone is the most common symptom of heel spurs. The intermittent or chronic pain associated with heel spurs tends to be much worse in the morning, when waking up and getting on your feet. The pain can also arise if you stand up after a prolonged period of sitting. They are most common among athletes that participate in frequent running and jumping activities.

Who is at risk?

Adults over the age of 40 have a high risk of developing heel spurs, along with the following contributing factors:

  • Flat feet or high arches

  • Wearing ill-fitting footwear

  • Being overweight

  • Job conditions that require long periods of standing

  • Frequent short bursts of intense physical activity

Why are heel spurs so painful?

Each time you step down with your foot, heel spurs are driven into the soft, fatty tissue that lines the bottom of your heel. This can cause extremely painful stabbing sensations, because the calcium build-up is constantly being jabbed into your heel pad. If untreated, heel spurs can erode the fatty pad of the heel and cause permanent damage to the foot.

How are heel spurs detected?

If you have been noticing a sharp localized pain in your heel, set up an appointment with a podiatric professional to diagnose the problem. Your doctor may send you to a radiologist for X-rays to confirm your condition.

tuscan podiatrist treatment and surgeryNon-surgical treatments

While we recommend seeking the help of a podiatric professional, there are a number of conservative treatments for heel spurs, including:

  • Physical therapy

  • Stretching exercises

  • Special shoe inserts

  • Taping stressed muscles and tendons

Surgical treatments

If the above conservative treatments fail after a period of 9 to 12 months, surgery may be the best option to relieve heel spur pain. Most surgical procedures are aimed at removing the plantar fascial ligament from the heel bone, accomplished by a small incision on the bottom or side of the heel.

At DPM Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, we offer our patients a unique treatment regimen for a variety of foot and ankle disorders. We combine Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, innovative Nd:YAG laser treatment and therapeutic massage to relieve pain, promote healing and restore normal function. Contact our podiatry professionals today in Tuscan, AZ to learn more about our services.