6 Dos & Don’ts to Help You Manage Painful Heel Spurs

A heel spur is basically a bony protrusion from a calcium build up on the heel of the foot. It may be caused by several factors, including standing for hours at a time, from frequent running or even from wearing improperly fitted shoes. A heel spur may cause pain or discomfort, causing you to seek medical treatment. If you have been diagnosed with a heel spur, your podiatrist has probably devised a treatment plan for you. As you try to cope with this often painful condition, there are several measures you can take to help you feel better and alleviate the discomfort. Keep the following tips in mind:

1. DO Make an Appointment With a Podiatrist

This should be your first course of action. A podiatrist is a foot doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the foot and ankle. Heel spurs is a common condition often seen by these medical specialists.

Your podiatrist will most likely ask you a series of questions pertaining to your lifestyle and medical history. For instance, you may be asked if you participate in sports such as running or long distance walking, or your job requires standing on your feet for hours at a time. You may be asked if you are a diabetic or if you have arthritis, as these conditions may be contributing factors.

Upon your initial visit, your podiatrist will examine your affected foot. He or she will note whether tenderness is present, which often indicates inflammation. Because a heel spur is difficult is difficult to diagnose conclusively on the basis of an exam alone, you most likely will be given x-rays of your foot. If a heel spur is indeed present, the x-ray will provide a clear view. After the diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe a treatment plan for you.

2. DON'T Wear Shoes That Are Too Tight or Shoes That Don't Provide Enough Support

If you have a heel spur, wearing improperly fitted shoes without cushion and support can make matters worse. If you must stand, walk or run frequently, a good supportive shoe will help alleviate the pressure on the heel of your foot. It's also a good idea to avoid wearing sandals or going barefoot.

3. DO Take Anti-Inflammatory Medications as Directed by Your Doctor

Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that is sold over the counter. It can help relieve inflammation and pain that is associated with the heel spur. If your doctor feels a prescription strength dosage will work better, take the medication as instructed. Keep in mind, some individuals should not take anti-inflammatory drugs. If you have a bleeding ulcer or gastrointestinal issues, discuss this with your physician.

4. DON'T Overuse the Affected Foot During a Flare Up

If you are being treated for a heel spur, your podiatrist will probably tell you to rest your foot as much as possible. If you can, avoid standing or walking for extended periods. Keeping off your feet as much as possible will facilitate the healing process.

5. DO Ask Your Doctor if Physical Therapy May Help

Your podiatrist may recommend physical therapy as part of your treatment plan. This may include sessions on a weekly or even daily basis for a several weeks. A trained and licensed physical therapist may instruct you on how to perform simple foot stretching exercises which may help ease the discomfort. As part of the physical therapy, ice applications may be applied. This is typically done after an exercise session, as it helps to reduce tenderness and relieve swelling and inflammation.

6. DON'T Dismiss the Pain if It's Ongoing

Finally, if the above mentioned practices fail to bring relief, don't ignore the pain. Tell your doctor if you haven't experienced improvement. Sometimes a cortisone injection may help significantly. If all else fails, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to remove the pointy piece of bone in the heel of your foot.  

To learn more, contact local podiatrist services like Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists.