What is a Heel Spur?

What is a Heel Spur? - Injury Overview

Heel spurs, also known as calcaneal spurs, are bony outgrowths that can form on the underside of the heel bone. These spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the fascia that supports the arch of the foot.
While some individuals may not experience any symptoms, others may find heel spurs to be quite painful and uncomfortable. The development of heel spurs is typically linked to repetitive strain on the foot, such as long periods of standing or walking. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes of heel spurs, how they can impact your daily life, preventive measures to avoid their occurrence, and effective strategies for managing heel pain if you are already grappling with a heel spur.


Although There are several non-surgical options available that can help relieve your symptoms effectively. Physical therapy exercises, Cold therapy, and Shockwave therapy are some of the popular options that provide fast healing results without the need for surgery. This can be beneficial for individuals who cannot afford to miss work or prefer to avoid the potential side effects of surgery.

What is a Heel Spur?

A heel spur is a bony growth that sticks out at the back of your heel. It's common for people to get one if they regularly put in long periods standing on their feet. Some people even develop over one, which can sometimes be painful. Although counterintuitive, you're more likely to develop a heel spur as you age, especially if you are often barefoot or have flat feet, rather than wearing elevated heels.

The technical term for the heel bone is the calcaneus bone, it is also known as a calcaneus spur, which is at the bottom of your foot behind your heel bone and it may cause pain while walking or even periodic swelling in your foot because it impacts multiple muscles and tendons through the bottom of your foot.

Here are some things you need to know about heel spurs:

  • Heel spurs are more common in people who are overweight or obese.
  • They are also more common in people who participate in activities that put stress on the heel, such as running, jumping, or dancing.
  • Heel spurs are often painless, but they can sometimes cause pain in the heel, especially when you first stand up in the morning or after prolonged periods of sitting.
  • The pain from a heel spur can be mild or severe. It can also be sharp or dull.
  • The pain from a heel spur can sometimes radiate to the arch or front of the foot.
  • The pain from a heel spur can be worse when you walk, run, or climb stairs.
  • The pain from a heel spur can also be worse when you stand for long periods.

Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis

Spurs under the heel are often associated with plantar fasciitis. Both heel spurs and plantar fasciitis have similar risk factors and causes. The treatments for heel spur and plantar fasciitis are also similar.

Plantar fasciitis describes the inflammation of the plantar fascia that connects your heel bone to the toes and provides shock absorption. This can lead to significant pain and stiffness in the foot if left untreated.

There's no simple answer when deciding between heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Sometimes, whether the pain is caused by a heel spur or plantar fasciitis (or, most often, a combination of the two) might be unclear. An X-ray could help determine whether a heel spur is present.

What Causes Heel Spurs?

Heel spurs result from toe-stubbing on hard surfaces, sometimes over a prolonged amount of time. Sometimes there are even underlying causes, like arthritis or plantar fascia strain. One might develop this condition after having excess foot stress as well.

This is also called Plantar fasciitis. But no matter what caused you to be inflicted by such an annoyance, heel spurs can usually be treated with rest and regular stretching of that area by a physical therapist who could help you get back on your feet soon!

Common causes of heel spurs include:

  • A strained or stretched plantar fascia
  • Shoes that lack support for the foot and heel
  • Inadequate running shoes or poorly fitting shoes
  • Gait Abnormality
  • Wear and tear of soft tissues due to excessive strain
  • Overuse injuries
  • Obesity
  • Existing foot conditions like Flat Feet, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, etc.

Who is at Risk of Developing Heel Spurs?

Some people are known to develop a heel spur. These people are often (but only sometimes) athletes who engage in activities that require a lot of jumping, running, and/or pivoting. Other groups of people at an increased risk of developing a heel spur include:

  • People who walk with an uneven gait
  • Runners and joggers (especially if running for long periods on a hard surface)
  • Older adults and seniors
  • Anyone with a chronic inflammatory disease, such as diabetes and gout
  • People who have flat feet or high arches
  • Poor general health
  • People who are overweight
  • Athletes and active individuals

Heel Spur Symptoms

Although some people with heel spurs feel pain, others do not notice any symptoms. If a painful heel spur is troubling you, be assured that the right treatment can alleviate your discomfort. A painful heel spur may cause problems with balance, coordination, and walking when there are signs of a heel spur.

Luckily, physical therapy and certain exercises may give you relief from symptoms.

How do you know if you have a heel spur?

The most common symptoms of heel spurs are:

  • Chronic pain or intermittent pain
  • Inflammation in the foot and ankle
  • Tenderness around the heel, particularly where the heel and arch meet
  • Sharp pain in the heel when standing up, particularly first thing in the morning
  • Pain on the bottom of the heel

Diagnosing Your Foot Pain

Speaking with your doctor is a good idea if you are experiencing any type of pain in your foot or heel. When you talk to your doctor, they may ask you some questions about your medical history and may thoroughly assess the area where you have pain. Depending on their findings, they'll provide treatment options, including medications, physical therapy, and injections.

If the heel spur is dismissed, your physician may hear your concerns and explain that other factors could cause the pain you experience in the bottom of your foot. For example, they may tell you that plantar fasciitis could also cause similar symptoms.

Once the diagnosis of heel spur is made, the doctor can recommend treatment options. Treatment for heel spurs may include:


Avoiding activities that stress the heel can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Cold therapy

Applying cold therapy pack to the heel for 20 minutes can help reduce pain and swelling.


Wearing a heel pad or orthotic can help reduce heel pressure.


Keeping the heel elevated above the heart can help to reduce swelling.


Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help to relieve pain and inflammation. Prescription pain medication may be necessary for more severe pain.

Physical therapy:

Physical therapy can help to improve the range of motion and strength in the foot and ankle.


Cortisone injections can help to reduce inflammation.


Surgery may be necessary for severe cases of heel spurs.

In most cases, heel spurs can be treated successfully with non-surgical treatments. However, surgery may be necessary if the pain is severe or does not respond to treatment.

Preventing Heel Spurs

  • Warm up with a herbal heating pad thoroughly before the activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting additional stress on your feet.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit your feet.
  • Seek treatment for any inflammatory disease.
  • Stretch regularly, particularly if playing sports or exercising.
  • Invest in insoles or orthotics for further support.
  • If you have a job or hobby that involves repetitive movements of your feet, make sure you take breaks often and stretch your feet.

Recovering from a Heel Spur

Heel pain can limit your ability to participate in the activities you love and how you go about life, but don't worry!

Relieving your heel pain doesn't have to be complicated. With simple remedies at home, such as staying off your feet, using  cold therapy packs, or wearing shoes that fit well and are comfortable, you can manage your ailment without seeking more extreme treatments like surgery.

Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications are other ways of managing your symptoms and preventing further injury. These options are deemed conservative treatments as they don't involve invasive procedures.

If you're suffering from heel pain right now, consider resting your feet or wearing shoes that won't aggravate the pain or associated symptoms like inflammation and inflammation. Remember to bring up any questions or concerns with your doctor and look into a few different options for insoles that can keep you healthier overall in the long run.

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