Modern Treatments and Physical Rehab for Heel Spurs

With 52 bones, the foot is a complicated part of the body. By age 50, the average American is expected to have walked around 75,000 miles on their feet. Given our day to day activities, heel pain is quite common. One of the common reasons why people experience heel pain is due to heel spurs.

What are heel spurs?

Heel spurs are calcium deposits right at the bottom of the heel. It is usually asymptomatic until it is associated with other conditions. Once it becomes the cause of heel pain, it is usually diagnosed via x-ray. There are instances when heel spurs grow as much as half an inch.

Association with plantar fasciitis

What usually causes this? There are many reasons why people tend to develop heel spurs. One of which is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia is a connective tissue found in the middle part of the foot. Its function is to stabilize how we run and walk. It promotes support as well. When it becomes inflamed, the plantar fascia pulls the padding that covers the heel exposing the bony part. It then tends to calcify developing into heel spurs.

There are many reasons why people develop plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can be from wrong footwear. It can also be from the anatomic peculiarity of your foot. Both flat and high arched feet are prone to developing plantar fasciitis and even heel spurs.

But of course, plantar fasciitis isn’t always the cause of heel spurs. Athletes are also prone to developing heel spurs regardless if they have plantar fasciitis or not. Wear and tear is also a common reason why people develop heel spurs. Sports and activities that require jumping and running are usually prone to damaging the pad that supports the heel.

Modern treatments and physical rehab

There are instances when heel spurs require surgery. However, in most scenarios, it is possible to solve the problem with conservative efforts. It is now possible to get rid of heel pain caused by heel spurs simply by doing physical rehab and some modern treatment modalities.

1. Rest

Rest is important in order to decrease level of heel pain. This works in almost all types of heel pain. Heel spurs are usually caused by continuous wear and tear on the feet. By giving the foot time to recover, there is a chance that you can walk normally without doing any other type of rehab on the affected foot.

2. Wear the right type of shoes

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There are different types of feet. High arched and flat feet are vulnerable to suffering heel pain. It can either be inflammation on the plantar fascia or even combined with heel spurs. One of the best solutions that you can ever do to alleviate pain is by using the right type of shoes. By wearing the right type of shoe, it helps support the parts of the foot which are unstable. For people with high arched and flat feet, it’s the mid part of the foot that is unstable.

One way to determine the right type of shoe is by stepping on a piece of paper while your feet are damp. This gives a shape where most of your weight is concentrated. This data is then used by shoe experts to suggest the right kind of shoes for your needs.

Another way to support your feet is to make use of orthotics. Orthotics is more effective when custom fitted on your feet. It is then placed inside your shoe to promote support. Though it costs more, it provides quick relief of heel pain associated with heel spurs.

3. KT Tapes

You may have seen the growing popularity of KT tapes. Athletes make use of KT tapes in order support injured areas. Olympic athletes have used it to maximize their performance. KT tapes, unlike other athletic tapes, can be placed on your skin for more than 24 hours. That means support for the entire day on the injured part.

This is a good rehab modality especially if the plantar fascia is inflamed which pulls the other surrounding structures by the heel.

4. Do not use old shoes and footwear that lacks support

If you are afflicted with heel spurs, it is a good idea to stay away from any type of footwear that lacks support on the middle part of the foot. That means staying away from slippers even if you are at home. It is highly suggested to wear shoes with proper support if you are suffering from heel spurs.

Also, make sure that you throw your shoes when it is already worn out. If it has reached its maximum mileage, better get a new one.

5. Stretches and massage

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Inflamed plantar fascia has to be stretched and massaged every now and then. Heel pain from heel spurs and plantar fascia usually occurs in the morning or even right after running. To stretch the plantar fascia, simply pull the toes towards your direction. You may also need to stretch surrounding muscles such as the calf muscles.

Foot massage also works to improve overall circulation on your foot. It also helps relieve the tense and inflamed plantar fascia that pulls on the padding of your heel. If you are on your own, you can massage the mid part of the foot using a tennis ball or a golf ball.

6. Ice

Right after an intense training, it is a good idea to apply ice on your foot. This can speed up the recovery and even decrease inflammation.

7. Strength and conditioning

Strength and conditioning is also important in order to prevent and cure heel spurs. It is a common scenario wherein muscle imbalance caused people to step on their foot the wrong way. This could easily lead to heel spurs and even injuries on your knees.

If you are suffering from muscle imbalance, it is crucial to perform workouts that focus on the weak muscle groups. This can correct your gait and stride and even promote a more balanced stance.

Treating heel spurs shouldn’t be too difficult. It involves determining the cause of the problem. From there, a non-invasive treatment can be done especially on the early onset of the condition.

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