If you feel pain in your heel when you get out of bed in the morning and take your first few steps for the day, you could have a heel spur. Find out more about the causes and symptoms of heel spurs and what you can do about them.
What is a heel spur?
A heel spur is a bony growth under the heel bone, visible on X-ray only.
What causes a heel spur?
Heel spurs are often caused by a combination of factors, including:
- problems with how the feet function (biomechanics)
- running on hard surfaces
- unsupportive footwear
- being overweight or obese.
All of these things can cause strain on the heel bone, ligaments, plantar fascia and muscles of the foot. The plantar fascia tightens and starts tugging on the heel bone, causing the spur to form.
Heel spur symptoms
Heel spurs cause intermittent or chronic pain when inflammation builds up where the spur connects to the soft tissues of your foot. You may feel pain when walking or running, especially on hard surfaces.
You may feel a sharp pain when pressure is applied in the area, such as when you stand up or when getting out of bed in the morning. After a while, the pain may become a dull ache.
Heel spur diagnosis
A heel spur can be diagnosed using an X-ray.
Heel spur treatment
Treatment for heel spurs may incorporate a range of options:
- footwear needs to fit, provide adequate support for the types of activity you do, and not cause you any pain
- strapping/Taping to support the foot, taking the strain away from the foot muscles and plantar fascia, which allows the area to heal
- stretching exercises for the plantar fascia and calf muscles
- orthotics for your shoes that support, align and improve how your foot functions
- medication such as anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation in the area
- surgery is only considered after all other treatments fail. Surgery may involve removing the spur from the bone, though it can also involve releasing the plantar fascia.
It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks to recover from a heel spur, when the area is strapped and rested.
Heel spur prevention
To prevent heel spurs, wear appropriate footwear, manage your weight, avoid exercising on hard surfaces and keep feet and leg muscles and joints flexible.
Last reviewed: June 2016