All too often we have patients come into our office stating they have heel spurs and they are causing them tremendous pain on the bottom of their feet. The diagnosis has usually been made by their primary care physician or an emergency room doctor after observing the spur on an x-ray. While the diagnosis of heel spur is correct, it is only part of the story.
While heel spurs are very common, the vast majority of heel pain is not caused by the spur itself. The spur forms in response to a tight ligament called the plantar fascia that begins at the heel and extends to the toes. The spur usually takes several years to form. About seventy percent of patients with plantar fasciitis have a heel spur and the majority of those have their symptoms eliminated with conservative care without addressing the spur as the cause or attempting surgery to remove spur.
In the rare cases of pain that originates from the spur, diagnosis can be made with x-rays that may show fracture of the spur or excessive formation of bone. In most cases immobilization or padding alleviates symptoms and only rarely do spurs need to be removed surgically.
Come into the office soon if you are affected by heel pain, because the treatments for plantar fasciitis and heel spur problems differ.