A heel spur is a bony projection that appears on the bottom of the foot and protrudes towards the arch. Heel spurs are usually small and painless, and do not need to be treated. When a spur does cause discomfort, however, it is important to receive treatment in order to prevent tissue damage and long-term problems. Podiatrists recommend different types of heel spur treatment depending on the severity and persistence of symptoms. A patient may be instructed to simply rest the heel and avoid activity, wear custom shoe inserts, or undergo a surgical procedure to correct major a foot problem.
Many people can find relief from mild heel spurs by implementing home remedies. Different types of heel spur treatment that can be accomplished at home include resting the affected foot, icing the heel, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. By avoiding excessive activity and applying ice regularly, heel tissue tends to become less swollen and irritated in time. An individual can further reduce symptoms by taking pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications in appropriate doses. Most mild heel spurs will shrink and stop causing pain within one to two months of careful home treatment.
Painful heel spurs are common in patients with plantar fasciitis, a condition that involves irritation and inflammation of heel tissue. A protruding heel spur can cause sharp pains when walking and standing, and constant aches after engaging in activity. In addition to home care, some people find relief from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs by wearing over-the-counter cushioning shoe inserts. If shoe inserts do not alleviate pain, an individual should schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to learn about different types of heel spur treatment.
A podiatrist can conduct a physical exam and take x-rays to determine the severity of a heel spur or case of plantar fasciitis. The doctor might suggest one of several different types of heel spur treatment. Many patients are fitted with custom orthotic shoes or shoe inserts designed to take pressure off of the spur, provide arch support, and stabilize the heel. Orthotic shoes and inserts distribute pressure evenly across the foot. Some patients are fitted with splints to wear during the nighttime, which help straighten the Achilles tendon to promote a higher arch and prevent heel spurs from growing larger.
If orthotics and splints are ineffective, a podiatrist might suggest different types of heel spur treatment that involve surgery. The most common procedure for patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis involves detaching muscle fibers and tissue from the Achilles tendon. The procedure relieves tightness in the heel and takes pressure off of the heel spur to promote recovery. Follow-up physical therapy and checkups with a podiatrist are important to make sure that heel spurs and accompanying pain are fully relieved. It can take up to one year to fully recover following a surgical procedure.