Spurs in Arizona

Of course there are spurs in Arizona, you may find yourself thinking… and you’re right. Both kinds are in abundance here.  Both kinds?  Sure, the ones you wear on your boots and the ones you wear in your boots, actually inside your foot. cowboy boots

I recently had pain in my heel and figured it was just another sign that I’m growing older (funny, I do that every year).  When I casually mentioned this to my ever vigilant primary care doctor, Helen Zhao of Deer Valley Family Practice, she pounced.  She’s so good at that and since she’s the one who uncovered my Chronic Kidney Disease, I listen when she pounces.

An order for three different foot x-rays revealed a formerly broken little toe (Judo pre-pregnancy 33 years ago), osteoarthritis (that’s like telling a painfully sun burned person they’re sun burned) and a heel bone spur.  A what?  Oh, an osteophyte!  Osteo comes from the Latin osseusos, ossis meaning bone and the Greek osteon, also meaning bone.   (Thank you for the memory, Hunter College of the City University of New York course in Greek and Latin roots taken a zillion years ago).

You know the name of my book about Chronic Kidney Disease is What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease.  That’s become my approach to any new ailment that shows up for me.  And there are lots of those lately.

We know from its name that a bone spur has to do with the bone.  We also know what a spur is.  Try to visualize a spur on the end of your heel.  Or, better yet, look at the diagram below. See it?

heel spur

According to MedicineNet.com at http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7094, this is the definition

Heel spur: A bony spur projecting from the back or underside of the heel that often makes walking painful. Spurs at the back of the heel are associated with inflammation of the Achilles tendon (Achilles tendinitis) and cause tenderness and pain at the back of the heel that is made worse by pushing off the ball of the foot. Spurs under the sole (plantar area) are associated with inflammation of the plantar fascia (the ‘bowstring-like’ tissue stretching from the heel underneath the sole) and cause localized tenderness and pain made worse by stepping down on the heel.”

The latter is my problem.  I’d actually thought that dancing was magic because when I did at Sustainable Blues (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SustainableBluesPhx/), I didn’t feel any pain at all.  Turns out that’s because I was dancing on my toes, not my heels.  I’ve still got bluesto thank daughter, Abby Wegerski, who started the dance as her Self Expression and Leadership Program project at Landmark Worldwide, and her co-instructor, Tyler Robbins, for those two pain free hours a week.

On to how I got it. Webmd.com (http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/heel-spurs-pain-causes-symptoms-treatments) tells us,

“Heel spurs occur when 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 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. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes whose activities include large amounts of running and jumping.”

I don’t run and I don’t jump, but I do pop in a walking tape DVD every other day or so.  Could that be the cause?  I read on only to discover that age, weight, walking gait, worn out shoes (I wear the comfortable ones until they literally fall apart) and “frequent short bursts of physical activity” could be the culprits.  I am pretty sedentary except for those exercise periods each day.

Still not satisfied, I wanted to know what I could do about the heel spur I’d developed. Dr. Andrew Weil, my health hero before I developed Chronic Kidney Disease has quite a lot to say about that at: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03031/Heel-Spurs.html:

“….Symptomatic treatment involves rest, especially from the activity that is contributing to the condition and making symptoms worse …. Ice is recommended immediately following it…. Stretching exercises that gently lengthen the calm muscle will relax the tissue surrounding the heel and should be done several times a day, especially in the morning and after prolonged sitting. Over-the-counter or prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications can help temporarily…. Deep tissue massage, taping and other physical therapy modalities can also be helpful. Arch support is highly recommended, either with shoe inserts or custom orthotics made by podiatrists. If pain continues, a steroid injection at the site of pain may be recommended….Sometimes bone spurs can be surgically removed or an operation to loosen the fascia – called a plantar fascia release – can be performed.”

I urge you to read his article for yourself since I omitted many of his warnings due to lack of space.  They are valid.  He also suggests natural remedies that you may find helpful, but be careful about the herbs.  As CKD patients, we need to rely on tested substances and, often, herbal supplements are not.  It was so much easier to deal with my health before CKD (or so I thought). As CKD patients, we cannot take Over The Counter (OTC) pain relievers.  Maybe taking a really close look at some of Dr. Weil’s natural treatments is worth a shot.  Just remember that you do have CKD.

Heel that Pain (love the name!) at http://www.heel-that-pain.com/heel_bone_spurs.php made a common sense point, although they sell the product to follow the common sense.  I am not endorsing their product because I haven’t tried it, but I do use orthotics from several different companies.orthotics

“The heel spur, because it is part of the bone, actually has no feeling in it. The pain that is generated from the heel spur is due to the soft tissue around the heel spur that gets irritated and inflamed and bruised. This is what creates the heel pain from the spur itself. If you can properly support the heel bone so that friction and motion are reduced, it will allow the soft tissue around the area of the heel spur to heal, and have a reduction in the inflammation and tenderness. The goal would be to support the heel bone enough so that the heel spur does not dig into the soft tissue.”

Wait a minute… I think I remember that I have spinal bone spurs too.  Well, there’s next week’s blog.

Kidney Book CoverI have a meeting with Annette, Folmer, the kidney education coordinator for SlowItDown (https://www.facebook.com/NativeAmericanCKDeducation and twitter.com) tomorrow to plan our presentation at the Men’s and Women’s Gathering at Talking Stick Resort on August 29.  I know how important CKD education is, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be exciting! By the way, this project emanated from my Landmark Worldwide Self Expression and Leadership Program.

Ah, the book.  I keep forgetting the original purpose of the blog was to publicize the book.  How life transforms! It does well and will continue to do so as long as you remember that every book you buy (Amazon.com and B&N.com) allows me to donate another one.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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