If you suffer from severe pain caused by bone spurs, please Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists as soon as possible.
Bone spurs can present as a serious source of pain in the heel or bottom of the foot. Bone spurs occur when a bit of extra bone tissue grows outward from an established bone edge, also known as an Osteophyte, or Exostosis. Heel spurs make up the most common types of bone spurs.
What causes bone spurs?
Bone spurs arise due to long-term stress caused by arthritis or inflammation in the area. Patients suffering from plantar fasciitis can have an increased risk of developing heel spurs, due to the inflamed plantar fascia tissue pulling on the bone.
What are the Symptoms of Heel Spurs?
Most of the time, heel spurs will have little to no symptoms. If inflammation develops, some patients will eventually notice intermittent pain coming from the area of the spur, often while walking or running. The pain caused by heel spurs actually comes from the injured tissue surrounding the spur, and generally not from the spur itself.
When asked about the pain caused by heel spurs, most patients describe the sensation as feeling like pins stabbing into the bottom of their foot whenever they stand up after long periods of time, such as when getting out of bed in the morning.
Types of Foot Spurs
Heel spur syndrome occurs when the bone spur forms on the bottom of the heel, towards the front of the sole. Patients suffering from plantar fasciitis can have an increased risk of developing heel spur syndrome, simply referred to as heel spurs or calcaneal spurs.
Insertional Achilles tendonitis, or “Achilles Heel”. Achilles Heel refers to a bone spur growth that affects the back of the heel, in the space where the Achilles tendon connects to the back of the heel. The bone spur will grow underneath the achilles tendon, gradually irritating and inflaming the tendon, causing pain and damage to the tissue.
In addition, the inflamed and/or damaged portion of the Achilles tendon can calcify, or harden.
Conservative Treatments for Heel Spurs
Contrary to most conservative treatments for other types of pain, heel spurs tend to respond poorly to resting the foot. Long periods of rest or extended periods of use both tend to exacerbate heel spur pain, while a moderate amount of regular activity can help keep the plantar fascia limber and reduce pain.
Patients should consult with their foot and ankle specialist if they experience heel pain that lasts for more than a month straight. Some non-surgical treatments for heel spurs include:
- Stretching regularly
- Wearing prescribed orthopedic shoes
- Taping the area to relieve stress on the tendon
- Special shoe inserts or other orthotic devices
- Night splints
Over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can also help to relieve foot pain while the condition heals. In a majority of cases, heel spurs will resolve without requiring surgery.
Surgery for Heel Spurs
Over 90% of patients will recover from heel spurs without resorting to surgery. Physicians will usually only consider operating on a heel spur if conservative treatment has failed to relieve symptoms after 9 to 12 months. Surgical options can include:
- Releasing the plantar fascia
- Removing the spur
Patients should make sure to follow all post-operative instructions given by their orthopedic specialist. Patients will need to abide by “RICE”: rest, ice, compress, and elevate the foot, as well as avoid placing weight on the foot. Patients will need to make use of bandages, splints, surgical shoes, crutches, and/or canes after surgery. Your physician will teach you how to properly use all necessary equipment, and set follow up appointments to make sure your foot heals properly.