Essential oil massage, epsom salt bath, apple cider vinegar, ice pack, anti inflammatory foods, flaxseed oil, stretching and massage, baking soda, shoe inserts for heel pain, alkaline diet and fish oil are some of the home remedies for heel spur.
What are heel spur?
A heel spur is usually a calcium deposit causing a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone. A heel spur can grow forward by as much as a half inch. The condition is sometimes known is “heel spur syndrome”. Although heel spurs are often painless, they cause heel pain. They are usually associated with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue(plantar fascia[i]). This tissue runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot. This situation occurs because of an abnormal force being placed on it.
Causes of heel spur?
Heel spurs occur when the calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months. Heel spurs are more often caused by strains on foot muscles and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. These are common among athletes whose activities include large amounts of running and jumping. They are directly caused by long term muscle and ligament strain. Eventually, this excessive strain stretches soft tissues in the heel and wears them out. Heel spurs develop over time and not suddenly. They tend to occur when the early symptoms such as heel pain etc. are ignored.
- Repetitive stress from walking, running or jumping on hard surface.
- Wearing shoes that don’t support the foot properly or are worn or poorly fitted.
- Increasing age which reduces flexibility and thins the heel’s protective fat pad.
- Having flat feet or high arches.
- Frequently doing physical activity.
Symptoms of heel spur
Heel spurs can be associated with intermittent or chronic pain, especially while walking, jogging or running. It may cause pain, inflammation and swelling at the front of the heel. The affected area may also feel warm. Finally a bony protrusion may be visible. Some heel spurs do not cause any pain at all. They are often discovered only through X-rays and tests done for other foot ailments. In general terms, the cause of the pain is not the heel spur itself but the soft tissue injury associated with it. The pain feels like that of a knife or pin sticking to the bottom of the feet and later turns into a dull ache. The pain returns immediately while standing up after sitting for a long period of time.
11 Natural Home Remedies for Heel Spur to Relieve the Pain
Pure essential oils such as rosemary or lavender or even everyday oils such as coconut and olive can help in reducing the pain due to their anti inflammatory properties. Coconut oil also acts as a natural moisturiser to soften the heels. The oils should be warmed up and massaged gently but deeply on the heels everyday.
Magnesium sulphate is also known as Epsom salt. Most amount of the magnesium in the body is stored in the bones. Some of the salt should be sprinkled in some warm water and the feet should be dipped in the water or the heels can even be massaged with some salt.
Apple cider vinegar is known to pull out the excessive calcium from the bone and bring relief. Soaking feet in a tub of warm water with a few drops of the vinegar or wrapping a wet cloth drenched in it, on the feet for a few minutes can cause relief.
Applying an ice pack to the affected area for a few minutes can soothe swelling and pain. Direct application of ice on the feet should be avoided. Instead it should be wrapped in a cloth and used.
Anti inflammatory foods
Some ingredients such as, turmeric, ginger, Cayenne pepper and cumin seed have high anti inflammatory properties. They contain natural antioxidants and Polyphenolwhich reduce inflammation. One teaspoon of ginger powder, ginger or turmeric should be mixed with warm water and consumed. Cumin seeds should be boiled strained and then consumed.
This oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acid which reduces inflammation. Few drops of it in warm water and soaking the feet in it will provide relief.
Stretching and massage
Foot massages increase fluid flow, breakup scar tissue and speed up the healing process. Stretching feet and toes and massaging with essential oils mentioned above can bring relief.
It works directly on the calcium crystals deposited in the heel region. It can be mixed with some water to make a paste and applied on the affected area.
Shoe inserts for heel pain
Replacing the inner liner of the shoe with the right shoe insert can provide the right support and cushion to alleviate the pain and stabilize and cradle the heel.
A proper pH balance is required in order to avoid inflammation and calcium build up which causes heel spur. A pH of 7 is neutral or balanced. Raw foods, green drinks or lime water boost alkalinity. Fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium and reduce acidity in the body. Excess amount of acids can lead to inflammation.
Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acid which is one of the strongest natural tools against inflammation. Consuming fish oil tablets daily can help in reducing the heel pain.
More than 90 percent of the people get better with non surgical treatment. If conservative treatment fails to cure thesymptoms of heel spur after a certain period of time, surgery may be necessary to relieve pain. Some surgical techniques include release if the plantar fascia or removal of a spur. Post surgical recommendations should be observed such as adequate rest, ice packs, compressions etc. Heel spurs can be prevented by wearing well fitted shoes with supportive heel counters and doing adequate stretching and exercises and keeping the body fit. If over weight, weight loss can help prevent heel spur from occurring in future. Shoes with excessive wear on the soles and heels should be avoided too.