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Many times you will not be able to identify when your heel pain started, but most often self-treatment of heel spurs is all that may be needed. Given that every mile you walk places 60 tons of stress on your heels, it is surprising severe heel pain is not more common.
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Why Did I Get A Heel Spur?
Heel spurs are one common cause of heel pain, but there are a number of other causes, a few of which can lead to severe heal pain. Heel pain and heel spurs are generally caused by chronic overuse as opposed to a specific injury causing a sprained ankle or a broken bone.
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Could It Be Something Else Besides A Heel Spur?
If you have severe heal pain or suspect any of the following conditions are causing your heel pain, you may want to see a doctor to see if a condition other than heal spurs is causing your heel pain. Common conditions also causing heel pain include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Stress fractures
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Treatment for the above named conditions depends on diagnosis. In general, self treatment of heel spurs is often all that is needed.
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Self Treatment For Heel Spurs
- Rest: Unfortunately, heel pain is commonly caused by overuse. As a result, if you do not modify your activities the pain is likely to continue. Rest will allow inflammation to decrease.
- Ice: Ice will not only help decrease inflammation, but will also help with pain control. Ice is most important early on when you begin experiencing symptoms acutely. You will probably want to do this for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times per day.
- Pain control: No one like to lie around in pain. You can take acetaminophen for pain, but ibuprofen will help with not only the pain, but also will decrease inflammation. If over the counter medications do not help, there are prescription medications that your doctor can pescribe.
- Proper-fitting shoes: If you are experiencing heel pain you need comfort over fashion. Make sure your shoes have good arch support and cushioning. Barefoot walking or walking in shoes with poor support like flip flops can increase heel pain.
- Proper support: You can provide mechanical support by using a heel cup, heel pads, or an orthotic. You can try purchasing orthotics from a sporting goods store or have one professionally made by a physical therapist. Orthotics can improve shock absorption and decrease overuse.
- Splints: Wearing night splints can stretch tissue on the bottom of your feet and allow it to heal.
- Moleskin: This soft padding can be placed over the heel to decrease pressure and pain.
- Stretching: You can decrease the overuse by making sure you stretch and warmup before performing any exercises. Also, consider cross training while your are experiencing heel pain. Cycling and swimming are 2 sports that will not increase your heel pain, but still provide a good aerobic workout.
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When Do I Call My Doctor About Heel Spurs
- Your pain is persisiting or worsening despite the home treatments mentioned above.
- Sudden onset, severe pain, or pain following some specific event.
- You have a fever or rednees of your foot.
- You are unable to walk or place weight on your foot.
- Pain that occurs at night or wakes you from sleep.
- Significant swelling of the foot.
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American college of orthopedic surgery Heel pain.
Schroeder BM; American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Diagnosis and treatment of heel pain. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(8):1686-1688.
Aldridge T. Diagnosing heel pain in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70:332-338.
University of Maryland Medical Center Heel Pain.