Q: I have a heel spur and I'm on medicine for the pain from my doctor. I want to start exercising again. I especially like yoga. Any suggestions?
A: I think you should be able to exercise now despite having a heel spur. But you may need to adjust some of your yoga positions to avoid discomfort. Talk to your yoga instructor about your symptoms and what adjustments you should make. Most yoga is low impact. So I think the risk is low that you'll make things worse. Start slow and gradually increase your exercise over a number of weeks or months.
Heel spurs are likely due to repeated tugging or pulling of tendons and ligaments on the bone. It's not clear why some people develop these spurs (with or without pain). Athletes and others who repeatedly stress the tendons in the ankle and foot may be particularly prone to developing heel spurs.
If you've had heel pain (with or without a spur on an X-ray), the most important thing is for you and your doctor to figure out why. The most common causes are:
Tendonitis (tendon inflammation), such as Achilles tendonitis
Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the ligaments in the sole of the foot)
Certain forms of arthritis
Injury to the heel (such as a bone bruise or fracture)
Here are some recommended treatments for common causes of heel pain:
Medicine for pain or inflammation
Switching to more cushioned footwear
Shoe inserts (orthotics)
Talk to your doctor about these treatment options. In the meantime, I suggest you keep up with yoga as long as it doesn't make your symptoms worse.
(Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.)
(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)
Will a heel spur prevent me from doing yoga?
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