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When Do Heel Spurs Require Surgery?

When Do Heel Spurs Require Surgery?

Heel spurs are bony protrusions that form on the underside of your heel bone that can significantly impact your mobility and quality of life. Often associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes becomes inflamed, heel spurs are a common issue with many nonsurgical treatments.

If nonsurgical treatments fail to relieve heel spur pain,  surgery may be necessary. The medical team at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine in Kirkland, Washington, treats heel spurs with noninvasive methods first but offers surgery to remove the bone spur and release the plantar fascia when necessary.

What are heel spurs?

Heel spur growths are often caused by continuous strain on foot muscles and ligaments. They can also result from over-stretching the plantar fascia or experiencing repeat tearing of the membrane covering the heel bone. People with flat feet or high arches are more susceptible, as are those who wear poorly fitting shoes or are overweight.

Heel spur symptoms 

Heel spurs may not be the direct cause of pain. Instead, the injury to the soft tissue around the heel spur is often the cause of pain, which is why they are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis. Symptoms can include sharp, stabbing pain in the heel when standing up, especially in the morning, and a chronic dull ache throughout the day.

Nonsurgical treatment methods

Nonsurgical treatments are the first line of defense and can be quite effective. These include:

The team at Washington Foot & Ankle also recommends rest and ice to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

When do heel spurs require surgery?

Surgery is generally considered a last resort, typically reserved for cases where nonsurgical treatments have failed to provide relief after a considerable period, usually 6-12 months. The decision to proceed with surgery is based on a thorough evaluation of the patient’s pain, mobility, overall health, and response to nonsurgical treatments.

Types of surgical procedures

Several surgical procedures for heel spurs exist, depending on the severity and specifics of the case.

Plantar fascia release

Releasing involves partial cutting of the plantar fascia to release tension and reduce inflammation.

Heel spur removal

If the spur itself causes foot pain, the surgeon can remove it. 

Gastrocnemius recession

A gastrocnemius recession procedure aims to increase the flexibility of the calf muscles, thereby reducing stress on the plantar fascia.

What to expect after heel spur surgery

Recovery time varies depending on the surgery type and overall health, but it can range from a few weeks to several months. Post-surgery care is crucial and includes physical therapy, proper foot support, and a gradual return to regular activities.

Risks and considerations

As with any surgery, risks include nerve damage, infection, and the potential for continued pain. Our team offers a detailed discussion about the potential risks and benefits to help you make an informed decision.

Schedule an appointment for heel spur treatment

While heel spur surgery is not commonly required, it becomes an option when conservative treatments fail to alleviate pain and improve function. With the right approach, stepping away from heel spur pain and back into a comfortable, active life is possible. Call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

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