The heel bone or calcaneus bone, which is the largest bone in the foot can experience an abnormal growth known as heel spurs. A heel spur is a foot condition that creates bony lumps or calcium deposits in the heel, typically where the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel. Found commonly in people with flat feet, but can also develop in people with high arches. Fortunately for most, heel spurs generally measure to about a quarter (1/4) of an inch making it nearly invisible to the naked eye.
While plantar fasciitis, pain, and inflammation of the heel and across the bottom of the foot are often associated with heel spurs, they are not always connected; both cause pain and discomfort in the foot. There may be instances where heel spurs don’t have noticeable symptoms or even cause pain to a person, but it is common that heel spurs cause chronic or intermittent pain. Oftentimes, if a person is involved in activities that require them to constantly walk, jog or run it will get worse. Inflammation will also occur when the surrounding tissue gets irritated by heel spurs. Pain from heel spurs usually originates from the spur rubbing against other tissue. Pain from heel spurs can be best described as a knife or pin repeatedly pricking into the bottom of your foot. As time passes, the sharp pain turns into dull aches which reappear after standing up from a long rest or sit. The affected area of the foot may also feel warm and a small bony protrusion may be discernable under an X-ray. You may find it difficult to diagnose whether you have a heel spur or some other ailment because there are many other forms of foot or heel problems. If there is constant pain in the foot, it is best to see a trained specialist like an orthopedic surgeon or a podiatrist for a proper diagnosis.
Some reasons for developing heel spurs could be due to arthritis and plantar fasciitis. Anything that effects your walking posture which induces excessive amounts of stress on the heel bone, ligaments and surrounding nerves can cause heel spurs, pulling away the plantar fascia exposing the heel bone to abrasions. It is wise to avoid running on hard surfaces because it could result in the overuse of your heel. Frequent stress to the plantar fascia will cause heel spurs. Avoid wearing ill-fitted shoes and high heels that change the way the feet sit in the shoes. Excess weight can put an overload of pressure on the feet and joints which often causes the occurrence of heel spurs. Heel spurs don’t just suddenly appear after a workout or a sporting event, they develop over time, so there is a high chance, if you change your bad habits and promote a healthy lifestyle, that you will decrease the risk of developing heel spurs.
Getting a proper massage and using a medically recommended compression sleeve are some of the best ways to alleviate stress on the heel and to reduce the pain associated with it. It’s very unconventional to have a personal healthcare masseur on-call, all day, just to massage your legs and feet. Compression sleeves provide similar benefits to a massage, gently applying pressure on the affected area. It is also considered one of the most effective and tranquil forms of treatment used to improve circulation and reduce pain throughout the day; combined with other treatment methods such as cooling and heating the affected area, stretching your feet and using orthotic inserts in shoes. It is important to rest the feet after long periods of activity, as well as elevate the feet to help with blood circulation, too. If there is severe pain and inflammation throughout the arch and heel of your foot, injections of anti-inflammatory medication may be a solution to help target specific areas. Over-the-counter pain relief medication like acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, aspirin and ibuprofen, such as Advil and Motrin, can also be used to help alleviate pain.
Compression sleeves work by providing pressure on a specific zone of the foot, especially around the heel, ball of the foot, and other areas along the ankle to support the foot and improve blood circulation in the veins.
If you’re getting positive results from therapeutic massages and stretching, then compression sleeves will be a good alternative resource because it’s not only effective but cost-efficient. The compression sleeve is a low-cost medical device compared to many other forms of treatment. Common issues with compression sleeves are to improve the form-fit of the apparel, it’s either too loose or too tight which causes an uncomfortable tenderness in the affected area. It is advisable to get an accurate measurement before buying the product to avoid this kind of scenario. Having an accurate measurement will maximize the benefits of compression sleeves. Compression sleeves can be worn at night in place of ordinary socks to help insulate and warm the feet. It is also suitable to wear under regular garments, such as socks, stockings, tights or pantyhose if you decide you want to conceal the compression sleeve. It is recommended to look for compression sleeves that are made from moisture-absorbing material to avoid odor and athlete's foot and to choose compression sleeves that have good feedback from other users and are best known for their wear-ability and durability.
Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. Please contact a licensed physician for a proper diagnosis of your specific case.