What Are Heel Spurs, And How Shockwave Therapy Can Help

By Athlete's Care on January 07, 2022

Heel spurs are a common condition of the foot that many patients at our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics seek treatment for.  It’s often associated with another condition, making a proper diagnosis crucial.

Shockwave therapy is a treatment option that can help many patients with this potentially painful issue.

What are heel spurs?

A heel spur is a growth that typically occurs on the front part of the heel bone, and points towards the arch of your foot.

  • Heel spurs are often associated with a condition called plantar fasciitis.
  • The fascia are thick ribbons of tissue that run from your heel bone to your toes.
  • Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include arch and heel pain, especially first thing in the morning.
  • The main cause of plantar fasciitis is lack of balanced support for the foot.

How do I know I have one?

  • Heel spurs may be painful, but in many cases, they are not. You may not be aware that you have a heel spur until an examination for another issue reveals it.
  • Many people discover a heel spur after an X-ray for another problem.

What can I do?

  • Decades ago, doctors often resorted to surgery to remove the bony spur. It was believed this would alleviate the underlying condition of plantar fasciitis.
  • Modern treatment options begin with ice, orthotics or arch supports, pain medications, and physical therapy.
  • There are multiple treatment options, and often a combination of two or more can produce the best results.

The key to preventing heel spurs and plantar fasciitis is to properly support your feet at all times.

  • Wear proper footwear for the activity you are doing;
  • Make sure of the ground you are walking or running on;
  • Be cautious stepping on uneven surfaces.

Where does Shockwave Therapy come into the picture?

Shockwave Therapy, sometimes called ESWT or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, is a noninvasive technique that essentially uses the equivalent of a sonic boom. The shockwave is produced by electromagnets or other controlled techniques, and can be directed at a specific focal point.

It represents a good non-surgical option for many people, even those with chronic plantar fasciitis.

  • When the shockwave enters the soft tissue, including the ligament, it is believed to stimulate increased blood flow;
  • Research also suggests that the treatment helps to promote the healing process.

Shockwave therapy is an ongoing subject of clinical study, but some of the research backs up its effectiveness in treating plantar fasciitis. In a Brazilian study, it was found to improve pain levels as well as function of the foot. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7006537/)

If you are experiencing pain in the heel or foot, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics today for a consultation. An early diagnosis, and effective treatment options are your best advantage.

Click here for the list of Athlete's Care locations that offer Shockwave Therapy.