Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your body. It improves respiratory and cardiac function while creating a stronger support structure for your body. Unfortunately, an active body isn’t immune to damage. In fact, being active can make you more susceptible to certain injuries and conditions, especially if you prefer high-impact activities like running. Let’s start this athlete-induced heel spurs guide.
Athlete-Induced Heel Spurs Guide
High impact sports and activities such as running, gymnastics, and anything involving repetitive jumping can be great forms of exercise. However, if they dominate your exercise routine, you’re more likely to develop injuries as a result. Most frequently these injuries affect tendons, ligaments, and the larger skeletal system. Heel spurs are a perfect example.
The Creation of a Heel Spur
A heel spur can form without damage to the plantar fascia, but it’s also relatively uncommon. The plantar fascia is the long ligament that stretches from the ball of your foot to your heel. It works to help support the arch of your foot, but repetitive, pounding exercises can undermine that support.
If the plantar fascia isn’t receiving extra support, exercise can injure the ligament causing inflammation and irritation. This can cause serious discomfort or pain, especially when you first stand up after a period of rest. Over time, your body will react to this inflammation by building a bony growth at the bottom of your heel, which is known as a heel spur.
Treating Heel Pain
Heel spurs are not usually painful by themselves. Many patients find that addressing their plantar fasciitis is the most effective form of heel pain treatment. Fortunately, treating plantar fasciitis is usually uncomplicated. Your podiatrist will likely prescribe a period of rest as well as special inserts for your shoes to better support the arch of your foot.
In addition to these quicker fixes, it is typically a good idea for patients to use a specialized stretching program or physical therapy. Most of these stretches can be done relatively quickly in the comfort of your own home, and they can help to reduce the risk of a recurrence when you return to your normal physical activities. However, if your heel pain returns despite making these changes, you and your doctor will have to go back to the drawing board.
Addressing Continued Pain
Although it is rare, heel spurs can cause pain even when your plantar fasciitis has been successfully treated. These bony growths tend to be larger, and they are less likely to respond to orthotics and stretches. Depending on your specific case, your foot doctor may have a few more tricks up their sleeve, but they may need to consider surgery if you don’t experience improvement.
The good news is that surgery doesn’t have to be scary or invasive. Los Angeles minimally invasive heel surgery uses the “keyhole” technique. This approach allows your surgeon to make tiny incisions as needed rather than using one large incision to open up the bottom of your heel. Through those tiny incisions, your surgeon will use specialized tools and x-ray guidance to carefully remove the excess bone.
The Advantages of Keyhole Heel Spur Surgery
Thanks to the smaller incisions and more delicate approach, keyhole surgery reduces the trauma to your body. It minimizes opportunities for scar tissue to form and allows for a shorter recovery period as well as reduced pain following surgery. As a result many foot surgeons will suggest the keyhole approach, but the type of surgery you have is ultimately up to you.
As long as you continue to take care of your feet by using your orthotics and doing your stretches, you will likely be able to return to your normal activity level in a month or so. Keep in mind that some patients take longer to finish healing, so you should always check with your doctor first.