A heel spur is a growth of calcium or calcification on the bottom or side of the heel bone. A heel spur looks much like a horn extending from the heel bone, known in medical terms as the calcaneus. Sometimes, a heel spur grows to as much as a half an inch long, and can be visible without an x-ray. Many people have heel spurs and don't even realize it because the bony growths are so small. In many cases, heel spurs are combined with a condition known as plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of the connective tissue that extends along the bottom of the foot from the ball of the foot to the heel bone.
Causes and Symptoms of Heel Spurs
The causes of heel spurs are many, including high impact sports or activities such as jumping or running, as well as poorly fitted shoes with inadequate arch support, and excessive weight or obesity. Many people don't realize they have a heel spur until they begin to feel chronic pain or inflammation around the heel. The bone spur formation itself doesn't cause pain, but the injury and tenderness of soft tissues surrounding the area is what causes the pain, which is often described as sharp and stabbing, or burning.
Nonsurgical treatment for heel spurs don't often respond well to rest, but pain does decrease as the individual walks. It's during the resting periods that most people tend to feel the pain. If pain in the heel lasts longer than a month, it's recommended that individuals seek the advice of their doctor or an orthopedist. In some cases, exercise, cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medications offer a conservative approach to treatment, but in the event that such approaches don't work, surgery is often required.
Some additional nonsurgical treatments include but are not limited to:
Taping or strapping to support and ease stress on foot and ankle tendons and muscles
Orthotic devices and/or shoe inserts
Surgical Treatment for Heel Spurs
One of the most common treatments for heel spurs is a bone excision, or removal of the portion or growth of bone that extends from the bottom of the heel bone. The technical term for this procedure is called osteotomy, or ‘removal of bone’.
During the removal of a bone spur, patients are most commonly given a regional anesthetic or a general anesthetic, depending on scenario. An incision is made over the area of the bone spur and the bony growth is removed by chipping away, cutting out a section of the bone, or by shaving the bone. This can be done with a laser treatment for approach, and utilizing special tools for the actual removal of the bone spur. Then, the bone is smoothed and the incision is closed with sutures.
Surgical treatment for heel spurs is typically only engaged after nonsurgical treatment has failed to provide relief, mobility or range of motion. Removal of a bone spur is a common procedure and may or may not include release of plantar facia in the event of plantar fasciitis in combination with a heel spur. Post-surgery, patients will be advised to engage RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and some patients, depending on the severity of the condition, may be required to use a cane or crutch after surgery, or a splint, cast, or surgical shoe or boot.
Cost of Heel Spur Surgery
In the United States, surgery to take care of the heel spur an average between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on doctor, facility, type of anesthetic used, severity of the heel spur, as well as geographic region of the surgery. Patients traveling to foreign locations such as South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe may save between 20 and 50% on same procedure costs.
Who Performs Heel Spur Surgery?
A podiatrist who belongs to the American Board of podiatric surgery, the American Board of them dilatory foot surgery, or the American Academy of pain management, or country specific organizations and associations, or trained to deal with not only a number of podiatry issues, but laser surgery approaches in dealing with those issues.