How to heal a heel – treating heel spurs with traditional Chinese medicine

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At Joost’s Sports Injury Clinic, Sunshine Coast, we encourage you, if you haven’t already, to try traditional Chinese medicine as part of your mission for freedom from pain and an overall healthier life. In this week’s blog, we tackle treating heel spurs.

What are heel spurs?

There’s a pain on the bottom of your foot, somewhere near you heel. You only notice it after exercise or some random activity, or perhaps when you wake up in the morning or after a long time sitting down, you eventually get up and think ‘ouch!’ – you may have a heel spur.

The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and absorbs the most amount of shock and pressure. A heel spur develops as an abnormal growth of the heel bone. When a foot bone is exposed to constant stress, calcium deposits build up on the bottom of the heel bone. The causes can range from excessive walking (especially if you are unaccustomed to it), running or jumping; to improperly fitted or worn-out shoes.

Often noticed in endurance athletes and those in their 40’s, heel spurs are a common foot problem in Australia. Women can also commonly experience it, particularly those who wear high heels frequently. Heel spurs, though not life-threatening, can significantly affect your ability to perform your usual occupational and recreational activities. Persistent overstressing of the foot and inflammation of surrounding tissues of the heel spur can also cause miniature tears in the tendon.

 

How do doctors usually treat heel spurs?

Bone spurs rarely require treatment unless they are causing frequent pain or damaging other tissues. Symptomatic treatment involves stretching, ice packs and rest (especially those activities that contribute to making the condition and symptoms worse).

Taping and other physical therapy modalities are starting to make their way into non-surgical western treatments as a way of prevention. When inflammation around the heel spur does get to a certain level, you’ll feel it. Conventional western treatments for heel spurs and associated conditions include custom-made orthotics; anti-inflammatory drugs – which can help temporarily but have some serious long-term side effects such as gastrointestinal upset and bleeding; and cortisone injections – but many physicians do not like injecting this around the heel. The side effects of steroids injected in this area can be serious and worsen symptoms. When these options fail, surgery may be necessary. But these treatments can take time and leave much to be desired in terms of getting a patient back on their feet (literally) with less chance of recurrence.

 

How can traditional Chinese medicine help?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is another alternative or contributing treatment alongside conventional medicine for you to try. The only time a heel spur is painful is when surrounding tissues become inflamed. TCM views the pain as an imbalance or disorder to the body’s natural state. It not only works locally at the site of the problem but systemically to encourage the body’s own self-healing processes. In other words, the aim is to clear the inflammation and allow the body to do its job.

At Joost’s Sport Injury Clinic, various TCM treatments can be deployed including the use of special poultices to remove or dissolve heel spurs, together with treatment of any soft tissue damage and inflammation at the same. Other treatments would also include moxibustion and massage therapy where maximum tenderness can be palpated.

 

It is truly not necessary to let heel spurs slow you down. For more information, contact us and let us help you get back on your feet today.

Comments

  1. Paul Nobes on June 2, 2013 at 6:39 am said:

    I suffer with chronic pain through my heel spurs, would like to know more about your treatment for heel spurs

    • Joost on June 2, 2013 at 9:35 am said:

      Hi Paul, very simply as I mention in the blog, heel spurs are merely calcium deposits on the bone which, when antagonised by activity or friction with cold tight tendons cause pain. The method I use in my Chinese Sports medicine is to dissipate the inflammation and then apply a poultice which has been specially formulated to dissolve these types of deposits and osteophytes.
      As each case is unique, it is difficult to specify how quickly we would get resolution, however the poultice is usually left on for 3 days and after the first treatment we should get a very good idea of how many (if any) further treatments will be required.
      I hope this answers your question if not please feel free to send me an email.

  2. sherry vioral on August 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm said:

    Ive had heel spur could you send me any information on how I can get rid of this spur. Ive tried all kinds of homeopathic things poultices ACV with molasses and baking soda, I am now using calamus root and dry mustard poultices now try to do it 3x a day. I take herbal teas to reduce inflammation also vitamens and minerals. I got a shot in hip with the analgesic homeopathic TRAUMEEL hopefully this will work. I am also wearing fitted orthodics. Ive started walking on rocks in bear feet. Im getting deep tissue massages on foot, PT, cold lazor, Ive had diathermy and ultra sound on it. I use therapeutic essential oils. Ive been off work for almost 3 months now and I stand on my job all day. Is there any information you can send me that I have missed that may help with my heel spur. I would greatly appreciate it. The MD wants to give me cortisone shot…I do not want that at all or surgery…

    • Hi Sherry, apologies for the delayed response, I’ve had some forced Computer “down time”!! Anyway, to answer your question, it seems as though you are attempting everything in nature’s arsenal to combat this painful ailment, and all I can say is that with my practice, I treat heal spurs using Dit Ta jau which is a medicated wine and this helps to dissipate inflammation, I would also work on all associated tendons, and the key ingredient is a poultice which has been formulated to dissolve these types of deposits. Unfortunately not knowing where you are I cant advise any further as my medicines are brought in from China. Good luck with your on-going treatment and please feel free to keep me up-dated.Regards Joost

  3. awilda on July 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm said:

    Hi I have a severe heal spur inflammation plus I have a tear affects ventral percent of the fibers and bursitis. can you send me information in how to get this pain away.

    • Hi, this is quite a complex situation which would take close to a chapter in a book to answer, so please feel free to give me a call so I can better understand your situation and advise you from there.

      Best regards

  4. Anne Chan on September 22, 2014 at 7:07 am said:

    Can acupuncture help in healing the heel heel spurs? I have it on my left heel. It is hard to walk. I am in Melbourne.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Anne, as I have not studied acupuncture I’m afraid I can’t answer that one….. you’ll need to contact a reputable practitioner and put your faith in them if that is the path you feel you’d like to pursue!! Good luck with your treatments!

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