Person with sore heel

What Are Heel Spurs? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Person with sore heel

Heel spurs are small, bony growths that develop on the heel bone, specifically on the underside where it connects to the ligament known as the plantar fascia. These spurs can vary in shape, ranging from pointy to hooked or shelf-like. Although heel spurs themselves may not cause symptoms, they can lead to inflammation and pain in the surrounding soft tissues.

Understanding Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are formed as a result of long-term strain on the foot muscles and ligaments. This strain can occur due to various factors, including:

  1. Repetitive Stress: Engaging in activities that involve repetitive foot pounding, such as running or jumping on hard surfaces, can lead to the development of heel spurs.
  2. Gait Abnormalities: Certain walking or running patterns can put excessive stress on the heel bone and its supporting structures, increasing the risk of heel spurs.
  3. Improper Footwear: Wearing poorly fitted or worn-out shoes lacking appropriate arch support can contribute to the development of heel spurs.
  4. Weight and Obesity: Excess weight and obesity can place additional strain on the feet, increasing the likelihood of developing heel spurs.
  5. Age and Flexibility: As we age, the flexibility of the plantar fascia decreases, making the heel more susceptible to damage. Additionally, the natural fat pad cushioning the heel may decrease over time, leading to greater impact and potential heel spur formation.
  6. Foot Anatomy: Factors such as having flat feet or high arches can alter the distribution of weight and pressure on the feet, potentially contributing to the development of heel spurs.

It’s important to note that heel spurs are not always the primary cause of heel pain. In many cases, the inflammation and resulting pain are attributed to conditions like plantar fasciitis, which often coexist with heel spurs.

Identifying Heel Spur Symptoms

Heel spurs themselves may not produce noticeable symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they typically manifest as:

  1. Heel Pain: The most common symptom associated with heel spurs is pain or tenderness in the weight-bearing part of the bottom of the heel. This pain can vary in intensity, ranging from a sharp, knife-like sensation to a dull ache.
  2. Inflammation and Swelling: In some cases, the presence of a heel spur can lead to inflammation and swelling in the front of the heel, where the spur is located.
  3. Visible Bump: Although not always visible, some individuals may notice a small, bony protrusion under the heel when the affected area is touched.
  4. Pain After Rest: People with heel spurs often experience increased pain when they first stand up after a period of rest, such as in the morning or after sitting for an extended period. This pain tends to decrease with activity but can return after prolonged rest or extensive walking.

If you are experiencing persistent or worsening heel pain, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing Heel Spurs

To diagnose heel spurs, a healthcare provider will typically conduct a thorough physical examination, review your medical history, and assess your symptoms. While symptoms can provide valuable insights, imaging tests like X-rays are commonly used to confirm the presence of a heel spur.

During an X-ray, the bony protrusion of a heel spur may be visible, helping to differentiate it from other causes of heel pain. However, it’s important to note that the presence of a heel spur on an X-ray does not necessarily mean it is the primary cause of the pain. Other factors, such as inflammation and soft tissue damage, often contribute to the discomfort.

Treating Heel Spurs

The treatment of heel spurs aims to alleviate pain and address the underlying causes. In the majority of cases, nonsurgical treatments are highly effective in managing symptoms. These treatments may include:

  1. Rest and Ice: Giving your feet adequate rest and applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  2. Pain Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide temporary pain relief. However, it’s important to follow the recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.
  3. Orthotic Devices: Using Lightfeet insoles can provide additional support and cushioning to the foot, relieving strain on the plantar fascia and reducing pain.
  4. Stretching Exercises: Engaging in regular stretching exercises, especially focused on the calf muscles and plantar fascia, can help improve flexibility and alleviate heel pain.
  5. Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist can provide targeted exercises and techniques to strengthen the foot muscles, improve gait mechanics, and reduce pain.

In more severe cases where conservative treatments fail to provide sufficient relief, healthcare providers may consider more advanced interventions such as:

  1. Corticosteroid Injections: Injecting corticosteroids into the affected area can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief.
  2. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT): ESWT utilises high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain. This treatment may be recommended for chronic cases that have not responded to other therapies.
  3. Surgery: While uncommon, surgical intervention may be necessary if conservative treatments are unsuccessful. Surgical options may include releasing the plantar fascia or removing the heel spur.

It’s important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on your specific condition and symptoms.

Additional Information

Recent research on heel spurs has provided valuable insights into their causes and potential treatment options. Studies have explored the role of biomechanical factors, such as foot pronation and gait abnormalities, in the development of heel spurs. Additionally, advancements in imaging techniques have improved our understanding of the relationship between heel spurs and other foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis.

One study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery examined the effectiveness of shockwave therapy in treating heel pain associated with heel spurs. The study found that shockwave therapy provided significant pain relief and improved functional outcomes in patients with heel spurs. (

Another study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research investigated the relationship between obesity and the development of heel spurs. The research suggested that increased body weight and obesity were associated with a higher risk of developing heel spurs, emphasising the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to prevent such conditions. (

To stay up-to-date with the latest research on heel spurs, it is recommended to regularly review scientific journals and publications in the field of podiatry and orthopaedics.


Heel spurs are bony growths that can cause inflammation and pain in the heel. While they are often associated with other conditions like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs themselves may not always be the primary cause of discomfort. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options is crucial for effectively managing heel spurs and improving overall foot health. Remember to consult with a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. By implementing appropriate measures and following a comprehensive treatment approach, you can find relief from heel spur-related pain and regain your mobility.

Discover Relief with Lightfeet Insoles for Heel Spurs

Are heel spurs causing you discomfort? Lightfeet has the solution you’ve been looking for. Our specialised insoles are designed to provide targeted support and cushioning for heel spurs, helping you find relief from pain and discomfort.

Why Choose Lightfeet Insoles?

  • Targeted Support: Our insoles are expertly crafted to address the unique challenges of heel spurs, offering personalised relief.
  • Reduced Discomfort: Experience the difference as our cushioned insoles alleviate pain and discomfort with each step.
  • All-Day Comfort: Whether you’re on your feet all day or enjoying leisure activities, our insoles provide lasting comfort.
  • Australian Craftsmanship: Trust in the quality and excellence of Australian design for your foot health.

Step into Comfort Today

Ready to say goodbye to heel spurs discomfort? Explore our range of specialised insoles designed for heel spurs relief. Feel the transformation as Lightfeet insoles provide the support your feet deserve. Choose comfort, make a difference in your well-being, and step into the Lightfeet experience.