Also called a heel spur, a calcaneal spur is a bony outgrowth from the heel bone (calcaneal tuberosity).
Scientists believe that this calcium deposit that causes a bony protrusion on the heel bone’s underside occurs due to many reasons.
Since a calcaneal spur rarely causes any pain, people suffering from this condition often ignore the symptoms. If you feel any foot discomfort or experience pain in your heel, chances are you’re developing a heel spur. Read on to learn more information about this illness and how you can treat it at home.
Join Agogo Newsletter
And get Updates for Better Health.
What’s a calcaneal spur?
A calcaneal spur is a condition that’s characterized by the calcium displacement on the bone that creates on the heel’s underside.
It can be a collection of small growths, which are usually irregularly shaped, or one tiny bony protrusion on the heel’s bone – the calcaneum.
A calcaneal spur can be highly painful, but mostly it goes unnoticed with a slight foot discomfort. Whether painful or not, a calcaneal spur is detected with the help of an X-ray.
Since the details about the symptoms and causes of a calcaneal spur are limited, many people mistaken it for plantar fasciitis.
The difference is important, though. Plantar fasciitis is a chronic inflammation of the flat band of the tissue that connects the toes with the heel bone called the plantar fascia, while a calcaneal spur is just the presence of the protrusion on the heel’s bony surface.
If ignored, inflammation gets in the tissues surrounding the heel, and therefore a calcaneal spur can become intensively painful. The middle-aged women and men are more prone to suffering from heel spurs, albeit other age groups have a risk too.
What are the major causes of a calcaneal spur?
A calcaneal spur is generally caused by a long-term ligament and muscle strain. This excessive and prolonged strain eventually stretches the heel’s soft tissues and wears them out.
A calcaneal spur takes time to develop, so don’t expect it to occur after an intensive workout. A calcaneal spur can grow bigger if you ignore the earliest symptom, such as heel pain.
A calcaneal spur can be caused by a repetitive stress from jumping, running, or walking on the hard surfaces or from wearing tight or uncomfortable shoes that fail to support your feet. Arthritis can also increase the risk factor of developing a heel spur.
Overall, there are several major causes of a calcaneal spur and they are:
- Long periods of standing or lifting heavy objects: If you do it on a daily basis, this activity can cause a significant strain to the foot’s arch, leading to a calcaneal spur development.
- Improper footwear: If you wear flip-flops all day long each day, perform an X-ray test, you’re more likely to already have a heel spur. Wearing the shoes that don’t fit well or old, worn shoes can also lead to injuries and strain that stimulate the development of a calcaneal spur.
- Gender: Women have a higher risk factor of a heel spur than men. Researchers suggest that it’s because women wear the types of footwear, which are poorly supportive and uncomfortable.
- Weight problems: Overweight and obese people are at risk, too. Carrying extra weight causes a large strain to the arch of the foot, giving a green light to a calcaneal spur.
- Gait issues: Moving or walking with an uneven gait can apply excessive pressure to certain areas of the foot, causing strain and resulting in a calcaneal spur development.
- Age: People who are over 40 years have a higher risk of developing a calcaneal spur than younger people because of the ligament elasticity reduction.
- Bruising of the heel: Frequent bruising is believed to cause a calcaneal spur, but this fact hasn’t been scientifically proved yet.
More than half people with diagnosed calcaneal spurs have plantar fasciitis first, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Scientists claim that plantar fasciitis can increase the risk factor for developing a heel spur.
What are the most common symptoms of a calcaneal spur?
As mentioned before, in most cases a heel spur shows no symptoms or signs, and you might not even experience any pain. That’s because a calcaneal spur isn’t sharp or pointy pieces of the bone.
A calcaneal spur doesn’t cut the tissue each time you move since it’s a calcium deposit on the bone. It means a heel spur is flat and smooth, like any bone.
Since there’s the tissue at the area of a calcaneal spur, often that the surrounding tissue and entire area become inflamed, resulting in a few symptoms, including chronic heel pain, which strikes when you walk, jog, run, or jump.
The new fibrous tissue development around the bony spur that acts as an invisible cushion over the affected area can cause serious problems.
When this fibrous tissue develops and grows, a callus occurs, affecting a bigger area than a calcaneal spur.
This eventually leads to a smaller area for the thick surrounding network of nerves, tendons, supporting tissue, and ligaments. These vital structures in the feet have very restricted space due to tissue or calcium buildup, resulting in redness and swelling of the affected foot.
You might also feel a deep throbbing pain that can become more intense when moving.
The pain caused by a calcaneal spur is usually stabbing and sharp, especially after an active day. Usually, this pain becomes dull throb, which increases with activities such as jumping or jogging.
The pain is more likely to strike in the morning or late at night and it eventually turns into a tolerable ache. Researchers have proven that a heel spur doesn’t cause the pain itself; it’s a buildup of the soft-tissues associated with it.
How is a calcaneal spur treated?
In most cases, a calcaneal spur treatment includes stretching exercises, rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and cold therapy. Some patients have trouble going through the day without this treatment.
When the pain occurs people with a heel spur rely on pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medications that have plenty of side effects, particularly gastrointestinal issues, such as ulcer symptoms, bleeding, and leaky gut. That’s why it’s recommended to try natural remedies or turn to a surgery.
Another conventional calcaneal spur treatment involves using a steroid injection. Some patients don’t feel any relief, though.
This is due to the various structures in the heel, which make it a complicated or painful area for an injection. The treatment also has certain side effects.
Cryoultrasound is another treatment that helps to cure a calcaneal spur. This is an innovative electro-medical device, which aids in utilizing the mix of two popular therapeutic techniques like ultrasound therapy and cryotherapy.
Cryoultrasound helps to speed up the healing process as it interrupts the cycle, spasms, and pain. Cryoultrasound improves cell metabolism and blood flow, stimulating an elimination of toxins and enhancing the recovery process.
In rare cases, a surgery is needed to remove a heel spur. Even though a surgery is effective, it’s an expensive and timely treatment. Moreover, a calcaneal spur can re-form after surgery, if you keep living the lifestyle that caused this heel problem.
The statistics show that over 90 percent of patients with a calcaneal spur treat the issues with the help of natural remedies. Surgery is required when the pain becomes unbearable or if you start having problems with mobility.
Sure, there are some complications of the surgery, such as permanent numbness and nerve pain in that area, as well as inflammation and infection, scarring, and recurring heel pain. There’s also a risk of stress fractures, foot cramps, instability, and tendonitis.
How to prevent a calcaneal spur
Taking a proper care of your overall foot health is the best prevention of calcaneal spur. If you put a lot of pressure on your feet on a daily basis, make sure you give them a good rest or relaxing bath at the end of the day.
If you feel any heel pain or discomfort, don’t ignore it. Reduce your walking or workout time, if it causes the heel pain. Ensure you wear comfortable shoes. Avoid wearing worn-out shoes for too long. If you’re overweight, consider losing a few pounds.
7 Natural ways to treat a calcaneal spur
Luckily, a calcaneal spur can be healed in a natural way without spending a lot of money:
Cold compresses can aid in relieving an inflamed tissue of the heel.
Just apply an ice pack covered with a piece of cloth to your heel. In order to keep the ice pack in place, you can apply a cold compression pack, which is sold at a drugstore as cold foot wraps or gel packs.
Keep them in the freezer and wrap around the heel at the end of the day. Leave it for about 5-10 minutes and remove.
If you experience a heel pain, apply cold compresses each hour during the day. If you don’t have compresses, then simply roll your foot over a frozen or cold water bottle.
2.Increase your vitamin B5 intake
The deficiency of vitamin B5 is characterized by the muscle pain and impairment.
The vitamin is also vital for improving nerve function, particularly forming a crucial molecule – acetylcholine. This molecule plays a key role in sending nerve signals to the muscles, helping your body to avoid nerve impairment and damage.
Vitamin B5 also helps to speed up the healing process, including that related to a heel spur. Sunflower seeds, avocado, eggs, lentils, and salmon are some of the richest sources of vitamin B5. You can also ask a doctor to prescribe you a good B vitamin complex supplement.
Not only are warm oil foot massages useful for your feet health, but they can also help you treat a calcaneal spur.
By massaging and stretching your heel and toes, the tissues become more resilient and stronger. If you experience the pain related to a heel spur, warm up a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil and massage it deeply into the heel.
The warm oil will comfort your aching heel and keep it moisturized and safe from the detrimental effects of a long day on the feet. You can also add a drop of anti-inflammatory essential oils, such as thyme oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil, or rose oil.
4.Epsom salt foot bath
This foot bath is useful for both preventing and healing a heel spur. Just sprinkle some Epsom salt in lukewarm water and let your feet sit in it for 10 to 15 minutes.
5.Apple cider vinegar
Known for its numerous properties, apple cider vinegar helps to pull out the excessive amount of calcium from the bones, reducing the symptoms of a calcaneal spur.
Add a few drops of organic or homemade apple cider vinegar to a tub of warm water and soak your feet for 10 minutes or drench a towel in apple cider vinegar and wrap it around the heel for 3 to 5 minutes. Ensure you’re not allergic to apple cider vinegar first.
Baking soda works on the calcium crystals, which are deposited in the heels. A few treatments with baking soda have been shown the positive results when it comes to dealing with a heel spur.
Combine 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/4 of water to create a paste and apply it to the affected heel for a few minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Baking soda helps to keep the pH levels in feet in balance and therefore reducing the discomfort a heel spur causes.
High in a form of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, flaxseed oil helps to fight chronic inflammation. Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil in lukewarm water and drench a towel in it.
Use it as a wrap around the heel and put a heating pad or a bottle of warm water over it. Try not to move for at least 30 minutes or an hour to feel the positive effect.
Before you try out any natural remedies, make sure you consult your doctor first.