Two of the most common forms of foot and heel pain we see at Suburban Orthopaedics are plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. These two conditions are separate and can occur independently of each other, but they are often found together as well.
Heel spurs can actually occur in two places. When the spur or the protruding part of the bone is on the back of the heel, where the Achilles tendon is found, it is a called a posterior calcaneal spur. When it is found on the bottom of the heel, it is often associated with plantar fasciitis and is known as an inferior calcaneal spur.
Our foot surgeon may recommend surgical removal of the spur along with other options to help to reduce or eliminate the pain. However, as with most types of musculoskeletal issues, surgery is often the last option after other non-surgical treatments have been attempted.
How Heel Spurs Form
Heel spurs start to develop from stress and repeated trauma to the heel. This may be associated with specific types of footwear, including high heels, but they are also often found in people who are flat footed. In addition, individuals who are obese are also more likely to have this condition.
Small injuries to the heel continue over time, creating a build-up of calcium in the area. As the stress continues, more and more calcium is deposited until there is a sharp, bony protrusion. This then presses against tendons and ligaments, causing pain which may seem to come and go initially but gradually become more chronic and intense.
If you have been diagnosed with heel spurs and are seeing our foot surgeon, it is very likely non-surgical treatment options such as rest, stretching, icing the area and the use of anti-inflammatories was unsuccessful in eliminating the pain.
Heel spur surgery will be performed by our foot surgeon as an outpatient procedure. In most cases, endoscopic surgery using a very small incision site will be used to release part of the plantar fasciitis ligament and to relieve the pressure from the bone spur. Depending on the specifics the bone spur may or may not be removed.
The recovery time of this type of surgery is much less than traditional heel spur procedures. Most of our patients will have the protective cast off within about 14 days and will be walking for very limited periods of time immediately after the procedure. Generally within a month most patients are able to return to their normal daily activities, including work, with some restrictions on the time walking and standing. Our surgeons will work with you to ensure you post-operative recovery is custom designed for your unique needs.
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