There are a number of approaches to dealing with heel spurs, small hooks of bone which develop inside the foot. They are closely associated with a condition known as plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendons in the foot often caused by overextension. In order to correct heel spurs, most people treat the plantar fasciitis, in the hopes that this will cause the pain associated with the heel spurs to go away. Treatments vary from simple rest to surgery to remove the heel spur and to treat the underlying plantar fasciitis associated with it.
The development of a heel spur causes pain because it inflames and irritates the surrounding tissues. Therefore, it is very important to relieve pressure on the area. Many people find that a padded shoe insert helps with the treatment of heel spurs, as does arch support. Arch support will also promote healthy pronation, a term used to refer to the rolling movement of the foot. When someone has an abnormal pronation pattern, it can cause painful foot conditions. Many sports stores offer pronation assessments for free, and a podiatrist will also assess your pronation if you make an appointment to discuss foot pain.
Resting and supporting the foot is an important step. Many patients also wear ice packs and splints, in the hopes that these will help to relieve the inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be taken to reduce the pain associated with the condition, and in some cases doctors may offer cortisone injections. Such injections are usually only undertaken in extreme cases, as some medical problems have been associated with them.
Exercises and stretches to treat the plantar fasciitis associated with the heel spur are also very important. Physical therapy can help, as a physical therapist can teach the patient a series of stretches customized for his or her body. These stretches will relieve pain from heel spurs and plantar fasciitis while developing strength in the foot. Physical therapy can also be used to teach a patient to walk correctly, or to determine which types of shoes, splints, and pads may best help the patient.
In extreme cases, a patient may require surgery to remove the bony protrusion or to release the tightened, painful fascia of the foot. Surgery is considered a last resort, since it can result in considerable pain or more long-term problems, such as collapse of the arch. Doctors will usually discuss surgical options extensively with their patients before proceeding, as it is a serious decision.