- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Living with a Heel Spur.
If you ever in my house in the morning you will hear the most ominous groaning and moaning sounds, and cursing that would make even the saltiest pirate blush and take notes. These noises I, am sad to admit, come from me. The cursing, moaning and groaning that occurs is not entirely related to the time of day. Or the fact I have to get to work teaching after motivating my nine and thirteen year old who are less than impressed with school. It is me greeting my new friend Harry the Heel Spur.
Until recently, I was not familiar with heel spurs, until two of my dearest friends obtain their own spurs. One of the symptoms they both complained about was the almost unbearable pain that they would feel in their foot when they got out of bed in the morning. I thought "What a horrible way to start the day!" not to mention the pain only got worse the more they stood on their feet at work. You see they are teachers as well, one is a pre-school teacher and the other is a High School teacher for at risk teens. Both of them, like me, are on their feet all day teaching, chasing and helping their classes. So you can imagine what a surprise I had when one day my own heel throbbed when I got out of bed. My first reaction to this was sympathy pains. However, I noticed that the pain continued and even got worse on the days I was more active. So biting the bullet, I told my chiropractor about the pain I was experiencing. He confirmed my worst fears...I had a new friend Harry the Heel Spur.
My chiropractor explained that Harry was a small calcium build up on the bottom of my heel bone but this was only part of the problem. Because, of this little spur the tendons and ligaments that line the bottom of my foot are being aggravated by this spur. Thus, causing my pain. The actual diagnosis for this problem is called Plantar Fasciitis and the Plantar Fasciitis is what caused the birth of Harry. This problems actually diagnosed in about 2 million people a year in America.
While I found this information to be comforting I wanted to know what caused the problem and how to get rid of it. Plantar Fasciitis is caused by over use of the arch tendon in your foot. When this tendon is over used it will cause the rest of the ligaments and tendons in the bottom of your foot to become irritated and inflamed. The main causes for this type of injury comes from long periods of weight bearing activities like running, walking, or standing for extended periods of time. It is also found in people who have a large BMI (Body Mass Index) tend to encounter this problem.
My chiropractor explained that this is a very treatable problem and can be resolved in most cases without the need for surgery. However, in some cases surgery is required if the bone spur is large or, in the case of one of my friends, the tendon actually snaps and breaks a small bone in the foot. This does occurs, but only in rare and extreme cases. Cortisone injections are also commonly used, but once again in only severe cases.
One thing that is very beneficial in the treatment for this ailment is receiving chiropractic care. If your spine, hips and knees are not aligned properly your feet will take the brunt of the misalignment. In addition, to making sure you are standing straight and tall your chiropractor can also adjust your foot/feet so that the pressure is lessened on your affected tendons and ligaments.
Stretching of your calf and Achilles tendon, most importantly before getting out of bed in the morning is critical. This I can honestly tell you does work and makes it a little easier to get up. One of the stretches that I use is too lay on my back, legs fully extended, and flex my foot up and back towards my ankle. I hold it for a count of 10 release and repeat a couple more times. When I get up and my foot still hurts I stand on my tip toes and press my heels down stretching my calf out. These stretches I repeat often throughout the day.
Massaging and using ice on your foot will also help to relieve the swelling and pain in your foot. One way that I found to massage and ice my foot at the same time is to freeze a bottle of water, wrap it in a towel, lay it on the floor and roll it back and forth (like a rolling pin) across the bottom of your foot. Now, if you can find a willing family member you can always have them give you a nightly foot rub. If that isn't an option, this is one hell of a good reason to go get a really nice pedicure.
Another, big factor in treatment for this is rest. This means to try to stay off your feet more. Now, this is very hard to do when you teach, have kids, a family and a home to run. But, make time to get off your feet. This really will make a big difference. Also, if you tend to partake in high impact exercise such as running, zumba, power walking or step aerobics you may want to change your workout routine as these exercise on a regular basis will only makes the problem worse.
If you are overweight, even by a few pounds can cause the pain to be worse. You will find that your symptoms will dramatically improve by losing the excess weight. The more weight that your carry the harder you feet have to work to keep it all moving. Now this is hard to do when you shouldn't participate in normal types of exercise and foot resting. But, things like yoga, Pilates, swimming, bike riding and water aerobics are great ways to exercise and will not make your foot to angry.
Another effective treatment is the use of ultrasound. This is what my chiropractor uses to treat my foot. The theory behind the ultrasound is that the sound waves will, over time, break up the heel spur. Once Harry Heel Spur is gone there will be less irritation to my tendons and ligaments. Meaning less pain. In addition, ultrasound will help to relax the tendons and promote healing from the inside out.
Another key component to all of the above treatments is your shoe selection. Sorry ladies those stilettos need to go for a while. You need to wear flat or low heeled shoes with a lot of support. My chiropractor, recommend Sketcher Tone Ups as a good shoe to wear. These are what I wear as you can get them in flip-flops, sandals, tennis shoe, and Mary Jane styles. Making them easier to wear for all occasions. In some cases, your doctor will recommend some type of shoe inserts, like Dr. Scholls. In extreme cases, like my two friends, your doctor may have you wear a splint on your foot at night to keep your foot flexed and the tendons stretched out.
No matter what form of treatment you choose to take this is condition is treatable and can be managed. However, if you feel that twinge in your heel when you first get up go see your doctor as soon as you can for a diagnosis. The quicker you start treatment the quicker it goes away.