A heel spur is a calcium deposit causing a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone.
Though painful, heal spurs can be treated naturally with Ayurvedic home remedies and the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
Heel spurs (calcaneal spurs) are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue, the plantar fascia, that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.
Heel Spur Causes
- Strain on the foot muscles and ligaments
- Stretching of the plantar fascia
- Repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone
- Repetitive stress from walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces
- Wearing tight or rough shoes
- Excess body weight
Signs + Symptoms Of Heel Spurs
At certain times heel spurs will be devoid of specific symptoms.
A heel spur can be identified however through x-ray. You may notice these signs and symptoms.1
- Pain in the heel and surrounding area
- Inflammation and swelling around the heel area
- The heel area might be warm to touch
Common western treatment modalities include analgesics, placing a soft pad under the tender heel, rest and protection of the painful area with antibiotics. If this does not help, injection of hydrocortisone or division of the plantar fascia which provides temporary relief is available.
Ayurveda + Heel Spurs: Vatakantaka
Heel spurs can be correlated to vata kantaka. This is considered a vedana pradhana vyadhi. This means, the condition is characterized by major pain when vitiated Vata dosha affects the ankle joint.
Vatakantaka is a combination of two words – Vata and Kantaka.
Vata is mainly denoted as va gati gandhanyo iti vata. This means that which has moved and is the main cause for action. Kantaka refers to the point of a needle which is like a thorn and that which produces a sharp, stinging pain at the heel of the foot.
Symptoms Of Vata Kantaka
The root cause of vatakantaka is aggravated Vata dosha associated with ama (undigested food) and Kapha dosha. The symptoms are as follows.
- Ruk or pain
- Sthambha or stiffness
- Shopha or inflammation when associated with Kapha or when ama is present along with Vata
The person who suffers from this disease cannot walk and stand properly because of continuous pain in the foot.
The clinical presentation of vatakantaka can be effectively paralleled with a painful heel which may be caused by various conditions including tendo-achilles, calcaneal knob, bursitis, acute or chronic plantar fasciitis, bony spurs, Paget’s disease, chronic osteomyelitis, and tuberculosis osteomyelitis.
Heel Spur Treatment (Vata Kantaka Treatment)
Western treatment modalities include exercise, custom-made orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections. If conservative treatments fail, surgery may be necessary.
Ayurvedic Treatment + Remedies For Heel Spurs, Vatakantaka
Classical Ayurveda recommends treatments like bloodletting, eranda thaila pana (intake of castor oil) and agnikarma (cauterization). Both the Charaka Samhita and Chakrapani Dutta indicate swedana or sudation as a treatment procedure for heal spurs.
Here’s an Ayurvedic heel spur remedy you can do at home.
- Oil your heels and ankles. Massage your heels and ankles for 20 minutes every day. You can use murivenna or mahanarayana thaila as an oil. You can even use plain sesame oil.
- After oiling the feet, pour hot water into a tub and dip your feet in it for 5-7 minutes.
READ MORE: Marma Points Of The Feet
Single Ayurvedic Herbs
If you wish to use medicinal herbs, be sure to consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance.
Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) relieves pain and inflammation. It helps in pacifying aggravated Vata dosha. You can apply a thick paste of rasna on your heels and ankle and leave for 20 minutes at night before bedtime.
Garlic pacifies Vata dosha. Make a paste of garlic and camphor (2:1 ratio). Apply on your heels for 20 minutes twice daily.
Internal administration of ashwagandha helps in strengthening the muscles, bones and ligaments thereby reducing pain and inflammation.
Internal administration of guggulu relieves pain and inflammation. Talk to a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before consuming herbal supplements.
Tamarind leaves relieve pain and pacify Vata dosha.
Dry ginger relieves inflammation and eases the pain.
Ayurvedic Formulas For Heel Spur, Vatakantaka
Kolakulathadi choorna is an Ayurvedic paste applied externally for the relief of heel spur.
Add the required quantity of water to 1 Tbsp of kolakulatthadi churna. Apply the paste over the affected heels and let dry for 4 hours. You can cover the paste with a thin layer of cloth, not tightly, to contain the powder.
Nitya Virechana or mild purgation can be done daily with castor oil. Seek the advice of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance.
Other Recommendations For Heel Spurs
- Use comfortable, soft footwear.
- Use socks at night time and keep the feet warm.
- Get adequate rest for heels at night. If your work involves standing long hours, take time to rest in between.
- Enjoy easily digestible, light food.
- Immerse your foot in warm water and do oil massage daily.
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying the remedies for heel spurs mentioned in this article.
- Kirkpatrick, Joshua, et al. “The Plantar Calcaneal Spur: a Review of Anatomy, Histology, Etiology, and Key Associations.” Journal of Anatomy, John Wiley and Sons Inc., June 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442149/.