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Updated:

March 31, 2024

What Are Heel Spurs?

Heel Spur Pain

A heel spur is a bone growth on the bottom or back of the heel. Foot and heel bone spurs are areas where excess bone has grown forming a small lump that sticks out. The result can become inflamed and heel spur pain can occur.

The cause of heel spurs can often be traced back to a gradual injury due to repetitive friction or stress or consistent pulling of the attachment of the plantar fascia. This can be due to footwear, exercise, inflammation, biomechanics, or simply from aging.

Common examples of this are heel bone spurs either at the back of the heel (often due to Achilles tendonitis or calf muscle tightness), or underneath the heel as a result of plantar fasciitis. The heel pain on the bottom of the foot is characterized as a sharp biting pain with the first few steps in the morning and in the evening after increased activities with minor relief as it is “warmed up” during light walking and massage.

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How We Treat Heel Spurs

We suggest conservative heel spur treatment or surgical treatment depending on the severity of the patient’s heel spurs.

Conservative Heel Spur Treatment Options

Rest:

The level of rest can range from a decrease in activities, to crutches and non-weight-bearing on the affected foot for 1-3 weeks. Avoid bare feet and shoes without support (including sandals and flip-flops).

Stretching:

Static stretching in the morning and evening using the proper technique will speed up recovery and minimize the chance of re-injury.

Medication:

Anti-inflammatory medication, both oral and topical, can assist with easing the discomfort that comes with chronic heel spur pain.

Injection:

An anesthetic (numbing agent) mixed with cortisone (anti-inflammatory agent) is placed at the point of pain to relieve the sharp pain associated with the first few steps in the morning, and/or the pain at night after a day of increased activities.

Arch Support:

Temporary arch supports, supportive athletic shoes, or a higher heel on a shoe will all provide additional rest to the injured ligament. Custom-molded orthotics is the best solution for immediate and long-term treatment.

Night Splints:

A night splint is a device that keeps a constant tension on the ligament while it is healing by keeping the foot at a 90-degree angle to the lower leg.

Physical Therapy:

Examples of helpful physical therapy activities to decrease pain involved with heel spurs include massage, cold therapy, contrast baths, stretching, ultrasound, and electric stimulation.

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Surgical Treatment for Heel Spurs

Heel spur removal on the bottom of the calcaneus is preceded by a release of the plantar fascia. This first exposes the spur and it is then simply filed down with a special instrument. The incision is minimal (1cm to 1 ½ cm) at the inside of the heel and sutures are removed after 2 weeks.

Heel spur removal at the attachment of the Achilles tendon is more complicated. It requires total or partial detachment of the tendon and then removal of the spur. Reattachment can be with or without a bone anchor, and non-weight-bearing with crutches is for 4 to 8 weeks depending upon the procedure.

The procedure is performed in an outpatient facility under sedation and partial weight-bearing on the ball of the foot is allowed after 48 to 72 hours of non-weight-bearing. Full weight-bearing and return to shoes at 2-3 weeks after the sutures are removed.

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Insurance Coverage for Heel Spur Surgery

Navigating insurance coverage for medical procedures can often be complex and overwhelming. When it comes to heel spur surgery, coverage varies significantly between different insurance policies and providers. At Modern Foot & Ankle, we are committed to providing you with clear, comprehensive information regarding your insurance options.

We accept a wide range of insurance plans and our dedicated team is here to assist you in understanding the extent of your coverage, including deductibles, co-pays, and any potential out-of-pocket costs.

Why Choose Us

Selecting the right podiatric care for your heel spur treatment is crucial to your recovery and overall health. At Modern Foot & Ankle, we stand out for several reasons:

Expert Podiatric Team Specializing in Heel Spur Solutions

Each member of our team is dedicated to staying at the forefront of podiatric medicine, ensuring you receive care that's not only effective but tailored to the latest research and advancements. Our specialists understand the complexities of foot health and work diligently to provide solutions that alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance your quality of life.

Leading-edge Diagnostic and Treatment Technologies

We harness advanced diagnostic tools and cutting-edge treatment technologies, such as cortisone injections, state-of-the-art physical therapy practices, and minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Customized Care Plans for Individual Needs

Recognizing the unique nature of each patient's experience with plantar fasciitis pain and heel spur symptoms, we craft personalized care plans designed to meet your individual health goals. Our approach takes into account not only the specifics of your condition but also your lifestyle, activity level, and personal recovery objectives.

Comprehensive Support Throughout Your Journey

Our dedicated team is here to guide you, answer questions, and assist with navigating insurance coverage complexities. We're committed to making your path to recovery as smooth and stress-free as possible.

State-of-the-art facilities for Optimal Care

Our clinics are designed with your comfort and well-being in mind, equipped with modern amenities and the latest medical tools. These facilities reflect our commitment to providing a superior patient experience, from the treatment room to the recovery process. At Modern Foot & Ankle, we believe that a state-of-the-art environment plays a crucial role in your healing journey.

Emphasis on Patient Education for Informed Decisions

Empowering you with knowledge is a cornerstone of our philosophy at Modern Foot & Ankle. We will help you understand your condition, explore treatment options, and make informed decisions about your care.

Every aspect of our practice is designed with your health, comfort, and recovery in mind. Our commitment to excellence in podiatric care, personalized treatment plans, and patient education sets us apart as a leader in the treatment of developing heel spurs and related conditions.

In Summary

  1. Heel spurs are bony growths on the bottom of the heel that can lead to chronic pain and discomfort, often related to conditions like plantar fasciitis.
  2. The development of heel spurs is usually a response to stress, friction, or inflammation over time, affecting not just athletes but anyone due to various risk factors like hard surfaces, flat feet, or improper footwear.
  3. Symptoms include sharp, intense morning heel pain, which may improve with light activity but worsens with prolonged stress or pressure.
  4. Treatment options range from conservative methods like rest, physical therapy, shoe inserts, and cortisone injections to surgical interventions for more severe cases.
  5. Understanding the role of foot muscles, soft tissues, and overall foot biomechanics is crucial in both preventing and treating heel spurs.

The information on our website is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. For any health-related concerns, we strongly recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. Please note that any reliance on the information found on our site is solely at your own risk. For more details, please see our Medical Disclaimer.

FAQs

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How long does it take to recover from heel spur surgery?

Recovery from heel spur surgery varies depending on the procedure's type and location. For a plantar heel spur attached to the plantar fascia, the healing time is relatively short, about 3 to 4 weeks. Recovery from a posterior heel spur surgery can take up to 3 months, due to its attachment and the surgical repair of the Achilles tendon.

How painful is heel spur surgery?

Heel spur surgery pain is generally minimal. Discomfort varies in the first 72 hours postoperatively and responds well to rest, elevation, ice, and pain medication if necessary. After surgery, weight-bearing on the ball of the foot is allowed, but partial weight-bearing on the heel after suture removal (about 2 weeks) can cause pain for up to 4 to 8 weeks.

What is the difference between a heel spur and plantar fasciitis?

A heel spur is essentially the attachment of the plantar fascia to the bottom of the heel bone. This form of plantar fasciitis is more accurately described as an 'enthesitis'—an attachment of a ligament or tendon to the bone. A patient can have plantar fasciitis at any portion of this ligament, but the plantar heel spur is only at its attachment.

How successful is heel spur surgery?

Plantar heel spur surgery is highly successful and carries a very low risk. Posterior heel spur surgery is also successful, but the risks are much higher due to its involvement with the Achilles tendon.

How long after heel spur surgery can you walk?

Partial weight-bearing on the ball of the foot is permitted after plantar heel spur surgery. Full weight-bearing, or 'normal walking,' is allowed after suture removal, which typically occurs 2 to 3 weeks post-surgery.

What exercises help heel spurs?

Exercise is not the most effective healing method for a symptomatic and painful heel spur. The best treatments are rest, arch supports, and stretching.

How is bone spur surgery done?

Bone spur surgery is performed in both hospital and outpatient facility settings, commonly under general anesthesia. However, local anesthesia with light sedation is also an option. The surgery can be conducted 'open' with sutures to close the incision or using endoscopic equipment that requires only steri-strips to close the small incision.

How long does a heel spur last?

A heel spur will last for life, but the painful symptoms can be treated conservatively. Moreover, many people have asymptomatic heel spurs that do not cause pain.

Can a heel spur go away on its own?

A heel spur will not disappear on its own, but the pain associated with it can subside. More importantly, not all heel spurs are painful or symptomatic.

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Local Podiatrists specializing in Heel Spur

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