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Heel Spur


What Is a Heel Spur?

A heel spur is a bony growth caused by a calcium deposit. These growths can occur in the back of or under your heel, or beneath the sole of your foot.

Some people may not experience any symptoms, while others may have significant heel pain. A heel spur can also be related to plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that supports the arch of your foot.

At Aurora Health Care, our specialists work with you to find the right treatment for your heel spur and any related pain. Your care team will first recommend the best nonsurgical treatments, like specialized orthotics (shoe inserts) or physical therapy. If those methods don’t work or stop working, surgery can relieve heel pain and restore mobility.

The Aurora Difference

Advanced Treatment for Heel Spurs

Aurora is one of the largest regional health care providers in Wisconsin. Our specialists treat thousands of people for heel spurs and other foot conditions each year.

When you come to us for heel spur treatment, you will find:

  • Care that focuses on you: Your team includes orthopedists, primary care doctors and physical therapy specialists, all working with you to find the treatment plan that fits your needs and lifestyle. And whenever possible, we focus on nonsurgical heel spur treatment first to help you avoid surgery.
  • High level of expertise: Caring for so many people every year gives us the experience and expertise necessary to get you the right diagnosis and treatment plan. Our doctors aren’t just orthopedic experts – many specialize in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle conditions. Our team is also skilled at treating heel pain and other foot problems using less invasive methods, so you recover faster.
  • Multiple locations: We have convenient locations across eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. That means it’s easy to get the care you need close to home, work or school.
  • Collaborative care: Our sophisticated electronic health record (EHR) system ensures that all of your providers are on the same page regarding your care. Your orthopedist, podiatrist, primary care doctor, physical therapist and other health care providers have access to your medical history and test results, so you receive seamless care at every stage.

Symptoms & Causes

Symptoms & Causes of Heel Spurs

You may have a heel spur and not experience any symptoms. However, a heel spur can cause heel pain in many people. You may feel:

  • Intermittent pain (pain that comes and goes)
  • Chronic pain (pain that does not go away)
  • Pain that is worse after exercise or after a long period of rest

Causes and risk factors of heel spurs include activities that put extra stress on your feet, as well as certain conditions:

  • Participation in athletics, especially running or jogging, or having a job where you are on your feet all day
  • Wearing shoes that lack arch support
  • Gait (walking) difficulties, which put excess pressure on your heel
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity (Learn more about obesity and weight management.)
  • Diabetes (Find out more about diabetes and endocrinology.)

Diagnosis & Treatment

Comprehensive Heel Spur Diagnosis & Treatment

To diagnose a heel spur, we will:

  1. Ask you about your symptoms and medical history
  2. Perform a foot exam, examining your heel and other parts of your foot for pain, growths or swelling
  3. Use an X-ray, if necessary, to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions

Find out more about orthopedic diagnosis at Aurora.

After we confirm you have a heel spur, we will first recommend nonsurgical heel spur treatment methods. These treatments do not remove the spur. Instead, they relieve your pain. Treatments include:

  • Exercise, especially stretching exercises
  • Changing your shoes or using an orthotic device in your shoes (Learn more about our custom foot orthotics program.)
  • Acupuncture – part of our integrated medicine program – to relieve pain naturally
  • Medications to reduce swelling, like oral ibuprofen or cortisone injections (Learn more about our injections for joint pain.)
  • Orthopedic physical therapy, where a specially trained physical therapist develops a customized plan of targeted exercises to help strengthen your foot muscles

If nonsurgical treatments don’t work, or work only temporarily, we may recommend surgery. Together, we’ll find the best surgical approach that fits your needs. Procedures include:

  • Releasing the plantar fascia: The plantar fascia is the tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes. If you have plantar fasciitis, we can cut part of the plantar fascia to release tension and relieve your heel pain.
  • Removing the heel spur: We surgically remove the heel spur.

Learn more about treatments for foot and ankle pain at Aurora.

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Please be patient as vaccine supplies are currently limited.

At this time, we’re vaccinating our most vulnerable patients based on CDC guidelines. If you’re our patient, we’ll contact you to schedule when it’s your turn based on available vaccine supplies.