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What treatment has worked best for your Heel Pain?
R.I.C.E.
Stretching
Powerstep Insoles
Birkenstocks
Night Splints
Surgery
How long have you had Heel Spurs?
just started hurting
pain for over a month
6 months or longer

Heel Spur Treatment Options

Many people who have heel pain seem to get better with time, even with no treatment. However, if the pain lasts more that a few weeks the following conservative treatments are often tried:

  • rest from excessive or abusive activity
  • Ice Massage
  • physical conditioning exercises
  • use of a shoe insert or a heel cup
  • physical therapy, including ultrasound therapy
  • over-the-counter pain relivers, such as aspirin or Tylenol(acetaminophen)
  • prescription pain medication
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • steroid injections (cortisone)

If none of these conservative treatments work, a surgical option may be considered, but only as a last resort because of the risk of complications.

The importance of Ice

Icing your foot is recommended as long as the inflammation is present. The cold temperatures help to slow down local metabolism in the foot. Depending on the type of injury, you may want to continue icing the area for as long as inflammation is present, even after the pain has subsided. This may mean icing the area during the entire rehabilitation process. It may be particularly beneficial to ice the area as you return to more strenuous activity.

There are many ways that you can ice your elbow. There seems to be 2 distinct methods:

  • ice the area with a cold pack
  • ice massage

The most common way is to simply put and ice pack directly on the foot. You can fill a ziploc bag with ice and just put that on the area, or you can use a gel cold pack. You can buy gel packs in many drug stores. It may be a good idea to wrap the ice pack in a light cloth so you don't freeze your skin. It can happen, so you have been warned.

My preferred way is an ice massage. The way we used to do this is to freeze water in a styrofoam cup. You then tear enough of the cup off so that you can massage the foot with the ice. As the ice melts, you tear off more of the cup.

Since you will need to ice your arm often, I prefer to use a CryoCup instead of a styrofoam cup. It's recyclable and less messy than styrofoam. The CryoCup is a 2 part plastic cup. You join the 2 parts, fill with water and freeze. After frozen, you simply run the cup end under warm water and the plastic slides off leaving a comfortably warm plastic handle with which to massage your foot.

Ice massage is great because it:

  • massages the area while minimizing swelling
  • The message seems to help break up the scar tissue in the area
  • doesn't feel as 'cold' as a cold pack, I think this is because it's moving.
  • No more cold fingers!

Simply rub the area with the ice for 15 minutes. It's probably a good idea to do this even if you are not feeling any pain because the ice should reduce inflammation in the area. The less inflammation, the faster your body will be able to begin healing itself.

Heel Spur Exercises

If you experiencing heel pain, the best thing is to go to a doctor to get a professional opinion. A doctor is the best person to advise you which conservative treatment options are best for you.

Doctors will often recommend stretches for the calf muscles and tendons, the following stretches are what we have found to be the most effective.

Stair Stretch Heel Spur Exercise

This is a great stretch to do. Begin by finding a step or curb and something you can hold onto to maintain your balance. Remember to slowly ease into the stretch. Bouncing may cause further trauma to the area.
  1. Balance yourself on the balls of your feet
    Heel spur exercise stair stretch
  2. Slowly allow your body weight to gently stretch the calf muscles until you feel tension.
    Platar fasciitis exercise wall stretch
  3. Repeat with the other foot.

Wall Stretch

While wearing shoes, locate a doorway.
  1. Position one of your feet so that:
    1. The ball of the foot is firmly against the wall.
    2. The heel of the foot is firmly pressed into the ground.
    plantar fasciitis exercise wall stretch

  2. Begin to slowly apply pressure by pulling your body towards the wall, making your lower leg more perpendicular to the floor.
    plantar fasciitis exercise wall
  3. Repeat with the other foot.

How can you prevent re-injuring the heel?

To avoid re-injuring the fascia and causing further pain, the APMA has the following recommendations:
  • Always consult a foot specialist before starting a new exercise program
  • Allow your body to adapt to the exercise program by starting slowly. It takes time for the body to adapt to the additional stress.
  • Purchase and maintain good shoes and replace them regularly. Investing a little more money in good shoes will pay dividends in pain-free living.
  • Remember to stretch your feet and Achilles tendon before and after exercise.
  • Always try to exercise on an even surface. Uneven surfaces can but strange stressed on the foot and can result in pain.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces. Without your shoes, you fascia has to support your entire body weight.
  • If it hurts, STOP. Don't try to bear through the pain.
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