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Treatments for heel spur

The treatment for heel spurs helps to relieve the symptoms of pain and walking difficulty caused by the friction of the spur in the plantar fascia. It is therefore recommended to use soft shoes with an orthopedic insole, so that your foot has more support and prevents the spur from causing excessive pressure, which in turn relieves pain.

The spur is the formation of a bony callus that happens due to stiffness of the foot and fascia, which is also related to being overweight, and having to stand for a long time standing or in the same position. The treatment with exercises, stretching and physiotherapy are indicated and achieve great results bringing pain relief in most cases.

Treatments for heel spur

Treatment options for a calcaneal spur

Check out everything you can do to relieve spur pain:

1. Stretching

Some stretching exercises of the plantar fascia may be used, such as pulling your toes up for 20 seconds or rolling your foot on top of a tennis ball to improve the elasticity of the fascia and prevent it from causing too much pressure on the spur, relieving the pain. You can also step on the end of a ladder step and force the heel down, keeping the sole of the foot and leg stretched.

2. Medication

When pain takes longer to disappear it is recommended you see an orthopedist so that he can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Acetaminophen or Naproxen. These medications can reduce swelling of the spur, making walking easier and pain relief quicker but should not be taken without a prescription and it is important to emphasize that they only relieve pain and do not eliminate the cause of the spur or cure it, so it is important to follow other treatments.

3. Massage

To do a foot massage you should use a good foot moisturizer or sweet almond oil. You can massage your own foot, but it is more relaxing when another person performs the massage.

You can also use ointments like Cataflan, Reumon Gel, Calminex or Voltaren to massage the sole of the foot daily after bathing or letting the foot soak in cold water, for example. You can also buy over the counter anti-inflammatory ointments that cause the area to heat up when applied daily.

Another great option to treat a heel spur is to press your thumb while sliding it over the sole of your foot.

4. Wear insoles

Using a silicone insole is a good strategy to decrease body weight pressure on the spur. Ideally, you should use an insole that has a 'hole' exactly where the spur is located because that way the whole foot is well supported and the sore area does not come in contact with the insole or the shoe. However, you should not use this insole constantly, it is only recommended for the duration of the treatment.

Another type of insole that can be used is one that forces the foot curve, which is present in some walking or running shoes.

Stretching foot exercises
Stretching foot exercises
Plantar fascia massage
Plantar fascia massage

5. Do physiotherapy

Physical therapy for heel spurs include the use of electrotherapy and ice application to reduce inflammation of the tissues around the spur, relieving pain when walking. Some examples of what can be done in physical therapy are:

  • Ultrasound with neutral gel or with anti-inflammatory properties;
  • Laser to help deflate and heal inflamed tissues;
  • Crochet technique or deep transverse massage that can cause some discomfort, but frees the fascia;
  • Use of a nocturnal splint on the foot, which immobilizes the ankle and lengthens the plantar fascia;
  • Exercises to stimulate the ideal curvature of the foot and the mobilization of the fascia.

Physical therapy can be done 3 to 4 times a week, until symptoms disappear

6. Acupuncture

The needles used in acupuncture are also a good alternative treatment. Each session can be done once a week and brings relief and pain control.

7. Shockwave therapy

This equipment can be used to fight the spur, bringing pain relief with risks and minimal side effects. The treatment lasts 5-10 minutes and requires 2 to 4 treatments, performed once a week. 

8. Surgery 

The heel spur surgery is used in only used in the most severe cases to release the plantar fascia and remove the spur, which alleviates pain definitely. However, because it is a surgery, there are some side effects that can arise, especially tingling in the heel region.

After surgery, to avoid complications, it is recommended that you rest for at least 2 weeks and keep your foot elevated with cushions so that it is above the level of the heart, preventing it from becoming swollen and delaying healing. In addition, you should only begin to put weight on the heel after the doctor's appointment, and you should start walking with the help of crutches.

Is there a cure for heel spurs?

Once a spur has formed, no treatment will be able to completely eliminate it, so it is common for the pain to arise from time to time. Especially when the person is careless and wears very hard shoes, stays barefoot for some time or spends many hours of the day standing. The only way to eliminate this bone formation is through surgery, where the bone can be scraped by the surgeon. However, if you do not do some adjustments to your lifestyle there is great probability that the spur may reappear.


Bibliografia

  • KISNER, Carolyn; COLBY Lynn Allen. Exercícios terapêuticos: Fundamentos e Técnicas. 6ª.ed. São Paulo: Manole, 2016. 868-870.
  • Mark Dutton. Fisioterapia ortopédica: exame, avaliação e intervenção. 2ª.ed. Porto Alegre: Artmed, 2010.
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