Handing holding a bare foot.

Heel Spurs Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments: A Complete Guide

by Mark Paigen 6 minute read

Heel spurs are bony growths on the bottom of the heel that can cause discomfort and pain. This comprehensive guide will explore their symptoms, causes, and various treatment options including home remedies, exercises, and insoles.

The Basics: TL;DR ---

  • Spurs. Bony growths on the heel bone, often linked to plantar fasciitis.
  • Symptoms. Sharp pain, particularly during first steps in the morning or after long periods of rest.
  • Causes. Excessive strain on foot muscles and ligaments, obesity, or ill-fitting shoes.
  • Treatments. Include rest, ice, exercises, and use of insoles for cushioning and support.
  • Insoles as a Remedy. Ergonomic insoles can provide significant relief by offering support and reducing strain on the heel.

What You Need To Know---

Heel spurs are bony protrusions on the heel bone that are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis. They are characterized by a sharp pain that is most intense during the first steps in the morning or after periods of rest. Excessive strain on foot muscles and ligaments, obesity, and poorly fitting shoes all contribute to their development.

Treatment typically includes rest, applying ice, engaging in specific exercises, and using insoles to provide cushioning and support. Ergonomically designed insoles are particularly effective as they offer significant relief by supporting the heel and reducing strain.

 Shop Heel Spur Insoles

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding The Causes
  2. Symptoms: Recognizing the Signs
  3. Treatment: Relieving the Pain
  4. Preventive Measures
  5. Long-Term Management
  6. Common Questions


Black and white image of the bones in a foot with a red bullseye on the front bottom of the heel. 


    Understanding The Causes

    What are heel spurs and what causes them?

    Heel spurs are a common foot condition characterized by the growth of a small, bony protrusion on the heel bone (calcaneus). This growth typically develops on the underside of the heel, where the plantar fascia—a thick band of tissue connecting the heel to the front of the foot—attaches to the bone. While they are often painless, they can be associated with discomfort and are frequently linked to plantar fasciitis, a condition marked by the inflammation of the plantar fascia.

    What triggers heel spurs?

    Heel spurs develop as a result of ongoing stress and strain on the foot, specifically involving the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that connects the heel to the front of the foot. Here's an integrated look at their development and the key factors that contribute to their formation:

    1. Gradual Formation. The bone growths often form gradually over time. They are the result of the continuous stretching of the plantar fascia and repeated tearing of the membrane covering the heel bone. This process can be so subtle that spurs may develop without initially causing noticeable symptoms.

    2. Continuous Plantar Fascia Strain. The persistent stretching and tearing of the plantar fascia play a central role in spur development. This stress can occur during activities such as walking, running, or standing for extended periods, especially if the foot mechanics are abnormal.

    3. Stress and Strain on the Foot. Excessive weight and certain types of exercise (like long-distance running) can increase strain on the plantar fascia. This added pressure accelerates the formation of heel spurs.

    4. Age-Related Changes. As individuals age, the flexibility and resilience of the plantar fascia can diminish. These changes in the foot's structural integrity make it more susceptible to developing these growths.

    5. Composition. The spur itself is made of calcium deposits. It may develop as the body's response to stress, strain, or inflammation of the plantar fascia.

    Understanding the development and triggers of these spurs is crucial in recognizing their onset and implementing effective preventive measures. It also helps in seeking timely treatment to alleviate symptoms and halt further progression.  Read 'Is Your Foot Pain A Heel Spur Or Plantar Fasciitis?' for a deeper dive into the differences between spurs and plantar fasciitis.


    Illustration of a foot with a pain point in the heel. 


    Symptoms: Recognizing the Signs

    Although they might be painless, they can lead to discomfort, especially when associated with plantar fasciitis. Common symptoms include:

      1. Pain. Sharp, stabbing heel spurs pain in the heel, particularly noticeable during the first steps in the morning or after resting.

      2. Swelling. Swelling and tenderness in the heel area, though symptoms often vary in intensity.

      3. Protrusion. Not all individuals experience visible protrusions but a visible protrusion on the heel can occur in severe cases.

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      "Heel spur has caused me pain with every step for over a year, this has finally fixed the problem, I will never go back"
      — Cheyanne L., Verified Buyer (Pace Short Insoles Review)

        Heel Spurs Treatment: Relieving the Pain

        Treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation while improving foot support. Some effective treatments include:

        1. Insoles for Heel Spurs. Specialized insoles for heel pain relief are effective for heel spur pain relief and reducing discomfort. They offer additional cushioning and support, thereby reducing strain on the heel and plantar fascia. We recommend Tread Labs Pace Insoles.
          Tread Labs Pace Insoles

        2. Home Remedies. Applying ice, resting the foot, and using over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate heel spur pain.

        3. Exercises for Heel Spurs. Stretching and strengthening exercises can improve flexibility and support around the heel and arch, aiding in pain relief. These heel spur treatment exercises may help:
          • Calf Stretch. Stand facing a wall, extend the affected leg back, and press the heel down to feel the stretch. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and repeat several times.

          • Plantar Fascia Stretch. Cross the affected foot over the knee and gently pull toes back. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat several times.

          • Towel Stretch. While sitting, place a towel under the arch of your foot and gently pull the towel towards you. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat several times.

          • Marble Pickups. Pick up marbles with toes and move them one-by-one into a cup to help strengthen the muscles on the bottom of your foot.

        4. Foot Soaks. Another effective heel spurs home remedy involves soaking the feet in warm water with Epsom salts to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

        5. Medical Interventions. In severe cases, a doctor might recommend treatments like corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, or even surgery as a last resort.


        Physical therapist stretching a foot and calf.


        Preventive Measures

        Prevention is key in avoiding the development of heel spurs and managing foot health:

        • Footwear Choices. Wearing orthopedic shoes and using insoles with firm arch support and deep heel cups not only prevents the development of spurs but also aids in heel pain relief.
        • Weight Management. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on the feet and lowers heel spur risk.

        • Regular Exercise. Engaging in low-impact exercises and stretching the foot and calf muscles can keep the plantar fascia flexible.

        • Avoid Overexertion. Listen to your body and avoid activities that put excessive strain on your feet.

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        “These insoles are perfect for my feet. They make my favorite shoes even better. I have arthritis, plantar fasciitis and a heel spur - helps with all those things. Also makes my knees and ankles feel less painful. Thank you Tread Labs!”

        — Kara S., Verified Buyer (Pace Insoles Review)

        Long-Term Management

        Managing heel spurs for the long term involves a commitment to foot health, including regular use of supportive shoes with orthopedic insoles, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and being mindful of footwear choices. Regular check-ups with a podiatrist can help monitor the condition and adjust treatment plans as needed.

        By understanding the causes and adopting comprehensive treatment strategies, individuals can effectively manage symptoms and maintain foot health. Insoles, as a primary remedy, play a vital role in this process, offering relief and support for those affected by heel spurs.

         Shop Heel Spur Insoles

        Lifestyle Modifications

        Lifestyle changes, such as reducing activities that put strain on the feet, opting for low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling, and regularly stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, can help manage heel spur symptoms and prevent exacerbation.  For comprehensive long-term management of heel spurs, consider these additional lifestyle changes:

        • Dietary Adjustments. Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, such as berries, fatty fish, and leafy greens, to help reduce inflammation in the body.

        • Hydration. Stay hydrated to support overall joint and muscle health.

        • Stress Reduction. Engage in stress-reducing activities, as stress can exacerbate inflammation in the body.

        When to See a Doctor

        Consult a healthcare professional if heel pain persists despite the use of orthotic insoles and home treatments, interferes with daily activities, or if there's swelling, redness, or heat in the heel area. A doctor can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend specialized treatments such as corticosteroid injections.  

        Common Questions About Heel Spurs

        What are some ways to avoid foot and heel pain?

        To avoid foot and heel pain, use orthotic insoles and wear supportive footwear, regularly stretch your feet and legs, maintain a healthy weight, and choose low-impact exercises to reduce stress on your feet.

        How do you get rid of heel spurs?

        Heel spurs can be managed with rest, ice therapy, stretching exercises, and the use of insoles for cushioning and arch support. Consult a doctor for persistent pain.

        What is the fastest way to heal a bone spur?

        The quickest healing involves combining rest, proper footwear with orthotic insoles, targeted stretching exercises, and anti-inflammatory measures like ice application and over-the-counter medication.

        Can a heel spur heal on its own?

        Heel spurs can gradually heal on their own with proper care, including rest, ice therapy, stretches, and wearing supportive shoes with orthotic insoles.

        What are nonsurgical treatments for heel pain?

        Nonsurgical treatments include using orthotic insoles, engaging in regular stretching and strengthening exercises, applying ice to reduce inflammation, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and using night splints.

        What can I do naturally for heel spurs?

        Natural remedies include stretching exercises for the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, using supportive insoles, applying ice packs to reduce inflammation, and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet.


         Shop Heel Spur Insoles

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