If you're suffering from pain in your heel that seems to get worse after periods of inactivity, such as first thing in the morning when you get out of bed, your doctor or podiatrist, such as those at McLean & Partners, may have told you that you have a heel spur. These spurs are bony growths on the heel that stick out from the bottom of your regular heel bone. Given the pain you're feeling, you may think that having the spur surgically removed will fix the problem, but you may have been advised against this. Why?
Why is Surgery Not the Best Option?
According to the Better Health Channel, heel spurs are typically not the root cause of your heel pain. They are usually a by-product of an underlying condition in your foot, such as plantar fasciitis. It is this condition that makes your heel painful rather than the spur itself, which shouldn't hurt when you press it.
In fact, some people have heel spurs and don't even notice them unless something triggers pains in their heels. Typically, if you are in pain, you have a problem with your plantar fascia, the tissue in your foot that supports the arch. If this tissue becomes inflamed or aggravated, it can pull on your heel bone, causing the pain you feel in your heel. Typically, your podiatrist will look to fix the problem by treating your underlying plantar fasciitis rather than focusing on the heel spur itself.
For example, you may be advised to do the following:
- To start an exercise program to correct any bio-mechanical issues that may be causing your heel pain.
- To wear orthotic shoe inserts to help support your feet correctly.
- To switch to wearing shoes that give your feet the correct support.
- To make changes to your lifestyle, such as losing weight or working towards a better rest/activity balance.
- To tape or splint your foot to avoid further strain, especially at night when the plantar fascia gets tight while you're asleep.
When Is Surgery Used on Heel Spurs?
Typically, your podiatrist can relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis and help you sort out your problem. However, if this becomes a long-term issue that is not fixed with traditional treatments, your doctor may talk to you about surgery to remove the heel spur or to deal with the problematic plantar fascia. According to myDr, surgery is rarely necessary and is typically only considered if traditional treatments show no signs of fixing your heel pain.