The idea of foot problems bringing even the greatest of individuals to their knees is one which goes all the way back to Ancient Greece. The first great tragedy of Western Theatre, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, features a plot which hinges on the fact its titular hero’s name means “swollen foot.” Even before that, the Greek legends which would one day form Homer’s Iliad gave us the story of Achilles, strong and invulnerable – except, of course, for his heel, which would prove his downfall, hence the “Achilles Heel.”
If you’ve been waylaid by heel problems, you might well feel like Achilles. Everything from mild sprains to your Achilles tendon to plantar fasciitis and bone spurs can be incredibly painful, and leave you feeling as though there is no way forward.
The Greeks believed very strongly in fate. That being said, you certainly don’t want to feel fatalistically trapped with foot pain. Bone spurs don’t have to be the end of the road.
To that end, let’s take a look at what bone spurs are, what causes them, who is most at risk, and how you can go about alleviating the pain and regaining your life and livelihood.
What Are Bone Spurs?
First, let’s tackle the most basic and essential question – what exactly are bone spurs? For those not in the know, bone spurs refer to pieces of bone “floating” around by your heel, or else bone growths which are likewise located near your heel area. In either of these cases, the bone in question is ancillary to your actual heel bone and positioned in such a way as to make taking steps or even moving the foot at all incredibly painful.
Bone spurs are often related to a condition known as plantar fasciitis. If you follow the NFL, MLB, or international football, chances are you’ve heard of this. It is a condition which exists when your plantar fascia tendon, which runs along the bottom of your foot and connects your toes and heel, starts to feel inflamed. This tendon is shorter and less flexible than other tendons, thus, making it somewhat more susceptible to inflammation. Bone spurs can be one contributing cause to the inflammation and pain associated with plantar fasciitis, or else simply cause pain on their own.
Bone Spur Symptoms
All of which begs the question – how can you tell if you have bone spurs? There are a wide range of different foot conditions, of course, many of which might involve pain in your heel area. What, then, helps set bone spurs apart?
One of the most characteristic signs that you might have plantar fasciitis is if you don’t feel pain, but then all of the sudden do after a long period of sleeping or sitting in one place. Again, your plantar fascia tendon is shorter than others, and so when it’s “at rest,” as is the case while sitting or while you’re lying in bed, you may not have a problem. When it has to stretch as the result of your standing and walking, however, it can suddenly start to hurt. Swelling can sometimes occur also.
While bone spurs can be related to these conditions, this alone does not necessitate their being the cause of your pain. You’ll want to consult a doctor to see whether it’s your plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, or both which are the culprit here.
Causes of Bone Spurs
Next, let’s take time out to look at a few potential causes for bone spurs. If you meet any of these criteria, you might be at an elevated risk for bone spurs. These criteria include:
- Walking in such a way that your gait causes added unnecessary stress on your plantar fasciitis
- Being overweight
- Ageing, with seniors having an elevated risk of bone spurs
- Working a job that requires a great deal of standing and, thus, adds stress on your feet
- Wearing shoes which are poorly fitted to your feet
- Excessive running, jogging, or standing on hard surfaces for a prolonged period of time
Of course, none of these in and of themselves are a “silver bullet” when it comes to diagnosing bone spurs, plantar fasciitis, or both. They are more of a grab bag of potential causes. The more you have, or the more particularly one seems to fit the cause of your pain, the greater the chance that you suffer from one or both of these conditions.
Those at Risk
You can probably already guess a couple of the groups which may be said to be at an elevated risk of bone spurs. As indicated above, those who are overweight have an increased chance of having to deal with bone spurs or plantar fasciitis. Those who engage in rigorous physical activity can also be at an elevated risk if their sports or exercise involves a lot of running around or stress put on their foot. The same holds true for those who work long hours on hard warehouse floors and similar setups. Last, but not least, seniors, as noted above, are likewise at an elevated risk for bone spurs.
If your bone spurs are serious enough, they may require surgery. You will want to make sure to talk to your doctor about this to determine both if your condition is serious enough to warrant this and whether or not the procedure is feasible for you.
Orthotic Heel Treatments and Insoles
A middle ground between simply living with bone spurs and pursuing surgery is to look into orthotic heel treatments. When seeking orthotic heel spur treatment, you’ll want to look for something which can give your feet added support while easing the pain which can come from spurs rubbing up against your heel or that tendon. Specialised insoles can be a great answer here. They prevent excess rolling and stress being placed on your foot, especially the bottom and heel parts, helping to ease the pain and provide support where you need it most.
Don’t accept heel pain as a matter of fate – look into heel spur insole treatment options.