Retrocalcaneal heel spurs are bony growths that grow in your foot, below the back of your heel. But why does that extra bone grow? And what heel spur symptoms can you expect if it does?  This post will review the causes and symptoms of heel spurs, plus how you can find pain relief from our podiatrist in Powder Springs, GA.  

Heel Spurs and Heel Pain  

When you develop a retrocalcaneal heel spur, it forms at the meeting point between your heel bone and plantar fascia. Now, many people with plantar fasciitis also develop heel spurs. And that’s because when you put too much pressure on your feet and tendons, that can trigger both conditions. But that doesn’t mean that the heel pain of plantar fasciitis is a symptom of your heel spur. Because, in reality, these are two separate conditions.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a condition describing painful inflammation in your plantar fascia. (That’s the band of connective tissue running along the bottom of your foot.) Plantar fasciitis develops when you overstretch or tear the ligament, leaving you with heel pain.

In contrast, your body forms heel spurs as a response to pressure. But not everyone with heel spurs experiences pain or other symptoms. In reality, the only heel spur symptoms you’re likely to experience is pain when a large bone growth rubs against your shoes.

Why Do Heel Spurs Form? Preventing Heel Spur Symptomsperson holding foot with heel pain

Your body may form heel spurs in response pressure. Now, that pressure may come from your shoes, the way your body is constructed, or even from changing your gait. In some cases, a bone spur forms after an injury, like a tear in the cartilage that covers your heel bone (called articular cartilage.)

Because there are many reasons why spurs form, there are also many ways to prevent their growth. First, always run or play sports on soft surfaces like grass or turf instead of concrete. You should also choose roomy, supportive shoes that fit your foot shape. And you should consider investing in custom orthotics, which support your unique foot shape and can take pressure off your heel bone.  Finally, ask for help as soon as you experience heel pain, because this symptom suggests there’s too much pressure on your heel bone and plantar fascia.

Diagnosing and Treating Heel Spurs in Powder Springs, GA

In the office, we can diagnose extra bone growth with an x-ray. Next, to help prevent heel spur symptoms, we’ll try to resolve any inflammation, and take pressure off your feet and heels.  How we do that will depend on your unique condition. But the treatment plan may include custom orthotics, regular rest and ice, or even anti-inflammatory medications. In rare cases, we may remove your heel spurs with surgery.  But we will only do so if your symptoms are so painful that it’s hard to wear shoes or maintain your mobility.

As with so many foot conditions, it’s easier to resolve your heel spur symptoms if you come in at the first sign of trouble. So if you’ve noticed a small bump forming at the back of your heel, schedule an immediate appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans. He can diagnose and treat your heel spurs, to prevent pain from interfering with your daily activities.

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