Heel Spur in Happy Valley

What is a heel (bone) spur?

A heel spur, or osteophyte, is an abnormal growth of bone, typically as a result of a stress to the bone. Having a heel spur does not automatically mean you have symptoms and many people have bone spurs without knowing it. It’s estimated that 10% of people have a heel spur right now, but only 5% of people with a heel spur report symptoms. The predominant theory behind their formation revolves around a constant pulling on the thin layering of tissue on the surface of the bone, or periosteum, resulting in localized inflammation. As the periosteum pulls away from the bone it creates a space, like if you laid down Saran Wrap and pulled up from the center, and this space fills with new bone growth. If the bone spur gets large enough it begins to cause irritation to other surrounding tissues or become irritated itself from altered mechanics. Spurs that form on the underside of your foot can be related to possible increased stiffness or tightness in your plantar fascia and is commonly associated with plantar fasciitis. Spurs that form on the back of heel are commonly associated with achilles tendinopathy. The underlying mechanism of both is related to an overuse repetitive stress injury. Bone spurs are not typically related to a direct one-time trauma.

Common heel spur symptoms

Patients typically describe a pain that is sharp and stabbing with a deep ache after activity or at the end of the day. Sometimes it can give the sensation of something in your shoe that you can’t seem to shake loose. You may notice thickening of your heel pad or additional callus formations as a response to the pain.

How do I know if I have a heel spur?

Your primary care provider can diagnose these with an x-ray of your foot. Bear in mind though, your heel spur may or may not be the source of your pain. The bone spur may just be a result of an ongoing plantar fasciitis.

Treatment of heel spurs

As noted, this is a common side effect of plantar fasciitis and is typically treated very similarly. A treatment plan overview could include:

  • Activity modifications
  • Footwear adjustments
  • Ice and anti-inflammatories
  • Prescriptive stretching and strengthening program
  • Orthotics and/or bracing

How does physical therapy help?

  • Tool assisted tissue mobilization of the plantar fascia and calf musculature has been shown to reduce localized strain around the bone spur.
  • Gait and running analysis to identify any possible mechanical or technique influence to symptoms.
  • Strengthening of foot intrinsic muscles and improving response time of your foot musculature for improved stability and reduced strain.

In severe cases a more aggressive approach by a podiatrist may be warranted if conservative care does not resolve symptoms. Although these situations are rare, we can gladly provide you with the contact information of some amazing podiatrists nearby.

If a heel spur has been interfering with your life, call us today to get started on a plan of care that works for you. Ascent Physical Therapy is conveniently located off Sunnyside Road in Happy Valley. We also love treating our neighboring communities of Damascus, Gresham, Clackamas, and Sandy at our top rated physical therapy clinic!