Heel spurs are a bone growth that extends from the heel bone, particularly on the bottom front of the heel bone and sometimes slightly to the side. Usually, a heel spur forms where the plantar fascia
ligament attaches to the bottom of the heel bone. Those who overuse, or put heavy stress on the plantar fascia, are at risk of developing heel spurs.
When a patient has plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and degenerative (worn out)--these abnormalities can make normal activities quite painful. Symptoms typically worsen early in
the morning after sleep. At that time, the plantar fascia is tight so even simple movements stretch the contracted plantar fascia. As you begin to loosen the plantar fascia, the pain usually
subsides, but often returns with prolonged standing or walking.
With heel spurs, people often talk about a dull ache which is felt most of the time with episodes of a sharp pain in the center of the heel or on the inside margin of the heel. Often the pain is
worse on first rising in the morning and after rest and is aggravated by prolonged weight bearing and thin-soled shoes.
Because the diagnosis of heel spurs can be confused with tarsal tunnel syndrome (as described earlier), most surgeons advocate performing a tarsal tunnel release (or at least a partial tarsal tunnel
release) along with the plantar fascia release. This surgery is about 80percent successful in relieving pain in the small group of patients who do not improve with conservative treatments.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most important part of treatment is to rest. Do not undertake activities which hurt the foot or aggravate symptoms as will only cause painful symptoms to persist. Apply an ice pack regularly for
10 minutes at a time every hour initially to reduce pain and inflammation of the surrounding tissues. As symptoms subside frequency of application can reduce to 2 or 3 times per day. Exercises and
stretches to keep the foot and ankle strong and mobile are important as long as pain allows. Stretching the plantar fascia is important, especially if symptoms are worse in the morning. A plantar
fasciitis night splint is excellent for stretching and preventing the plantar fascia tightening up over night. Anti-Inflammatory medicine (e.g. ibuprofen) may be prescribed by a doctor but always
check with a medical professional first as taking some medications such as ibuprofen should not be done if the patient has asthma. Shoe inserts can help to take the pressure off of the spur and
reduce pain. If these treatments do not significantly ease the symptoms then surgery may be an option.
Almost 90% of the people suffering from heel spur get better with nonsurgical treatments. However, if the conservative treatments do not help you and you still have pain even after 9 to 12 months,
your doctor may advise surgery for treating heel spur. The surgery helps in reducing the pain and improving your mobility. Some of the surgical techniques used by doctors are release of the plantar
fascia. Removal of a spur. Before the surgery, the doctor will go for some pre-surgical tests and exams. After the operation, you will need to follow some specific recommendations which may include
elevation of the foot, waiting time only after which you can put weight on the foot etc.