Heel Spurs is condition caused due to calcification of the area between the heel (calcaneal) bone of the foot and the tendons surrounding it.
The condition makes it difficult for heel to support the body, leading to pains and aches, commonly associated with inflammation.
There are two types of heel spurs – the posterior superior spurs (occurs in the back area of the heel, where the Achilles tendon is attached), and the most common: posterior inferior spurs (under the heel).
What are the causes of heel spurs?
Heel spurs occur because of excessive and constant stretching of the plantar fascia, the band of tissues which form a layer over the bones at the foot’s base. This results in plantar fasciitis.
As a natural response, the body begins to send calcium to the injured areas, trying to heal the tissues. This calcification process causes the formation and growth of a bony prominence over a period of time.
Heel spurs can occur due to excessive athletic activity, tendon overload, standing continuously for a long time, wearing improper footwear, poor posture and obesity.
You may even suffer from congenital spurs which cause inflammation and irritation in tendons.
Although plantar fascia inflammation is associated with the development of spurs, you can have fasciitis without the spurs.
Plantar fasciitis leads to excruciating pain in the sole area, extending to the heel.
How do heel spurs get diagnosed?
Spurs normally show up on the x-rays, in the form of pointed protuberances that point towards the toes and measure anywhere from 1 to 5 mm.
Some people may even suffer from this condition without showing any of its commonly known symptoms.
What are the commonly known symptoms of heel spurs?
Firstly, let’s discuss “overloading” the tendons and the pain caused by it. You may experience this pain during the morning hours, after taking the first few steps of the day. The feeling is normally like stepping on a sharp nail. This pain may subside with rest, but return as soon as you use your foot to support your body. Carrying heavy objects may make this pain worse.
- Local ultrasound treatment methods
- The use of analgesics on the areas that hurt
- The use of orthopaedic insoles (inserts specifically meant for spurs) provide support and reduce the tension in the tendons.
- Use of shockwaves, wherein the calcification may get dissolved by high-energy ultrasound waves.
- Daily stretching exercises
- Use of hot and cold physiotherapy, for painalleviation.
- You may have to undergo surgery of the other treatment methods fail.
Natural remedies to gain relief from heel spur symptoms
- Parietaria – Apply an infusion created with dried parietaria leaves and one litre water to the affected area using a compress.
- Verbena – Cook few of these leaves in water for around 15 minutes. Moisten a compress with it and apply to the painful area.
- Echinacea – This plant has potent anti-inflammatory properties. You can create an infusion by mixing one tablespoon of this dried plant into one cup of water. Then drink a few cups of this solution each day to obtain significant relief.
- Wormwood – Apply a moist compress soaked in a wormwood infusion.
The easiest way of preventing heel spurs is by avoiding their causes, like improper footwear, excessive strain on the heels, bad posture, obesity, etc. You can even prevent it by making certain dietary changes and eating certain food items on a regular basis.
Foods consisting of zinc, silicon and magnesium help in keeping the tendons and muscles healthy.
Let’s now learn about the different foods that contain these minerals:
- Zinc – Found in oysters, pumpkins, sesame butter, pumpkin seeds, sesame flour, peanuts and wheat sprouts.
- Silicon – Obtained when you consume green beans, nettle (consult a qualified naturopath about the best ways to consume this), parsley, whole oat flour and beets.
- Magnesium – Best sources of magnesium are legumes, dry fruits, spinach, grains, mollusks, asparagus and lettuce.
- Omega-3s – Foods consisting of omega-3s help in reducing inflammation. Some of these food items are walnut oil, canola oil, fish oil, linseed oil, walnuts, strawberries, lettuce, soy, cucumbers, spinach, almonds and soy.
Papaya and pineapple are two important fruits that help significantly in heel spurs due to their high bromelain content. These two fruits must be eaten together to obtain the best effects. Bromelain is an important anti-inflammatory ingredient.
Last but not least, a balanced and healthy diet can go a long way in preventing diseases and harmful health conditions, especially heel spurs.