What You Need to Know About Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are a common finding we see on x-ray, and we find these many times in patients that do not even have heel pain. Many patients think that all heel spurs need to be surgically removed, but this is not necessarily the case.

Heel spurs on the plantar side of the calcaneus typically arise from the plantar fascia and other soft tissue attachments that are chronically tight and pulling on the bone. In the 1980s, these were commonly removed, but over time we realized that many times we can get patients feeling better without having to do any surgery on the heel spur in this area at all.

Heel spurs on the posterior aspect of the calcaneus, where the Achilles tendon inserts, often cause more pain and problems.  These often do end up having to be surgically removed. This spur typically arises because the Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are too tight, which we called equinus. If this is the case, a bone spur will slowly grow over the back of the heel, and this typically rubs in shoes and gives pain associated with this.

We also sometimes find on MRIs that the Achilles tendon has some tearing occurring around the spur itself. If the spurs need to be surgically removed, most of the time we have to detach a portion of the Achilles tendon, and then reattach it with anchors to secure it back to the heel.

With this type of surgery, most of the time patients need to be nonweightbearing for 3-6 weeks, and then they can transition to partial weightbearing in the boot for several more weeks.  After this, they start physical therapy to try to get back to full activity.

If you are suffering any foot and ankle pain or have a sprain or fracture, call us immediately so we can help you. All of the podiatrists and foot and ankle surgeons at Foot and Ankle Institute of Colorado are expertly trained to get you back on your feet and back to your normal activities as quickly as possible.

Author
Dr. Matthew Hinderland Board Certified Podiatrist and Foot and Ankle Surgeon

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