Posterior Heel Spur
Heel spurs are overgrowths of bone that are often found in the back and on the bottom of the heel bone. They occur as a result of chronic traction forces exerted by the soft tissues on the bone. This traction force, if strong enough, can result in tearing of the coating over the heel bone, bleeding and subsequent development of bone growth. (This is seen oftentimes on the bottom of the heel as well in cases of plantar fasciitis.)
In cases of posterior (back of the heel) heel spurs, the spur is a result of chronic traction forces and pulling on the heel by the tight Achilles tendon. When this occurs, the spur that develops is actually within the tendon itself. As a result, inflammation and thickening of the Achilles tendon may occur, known as Achilles Tendonitis or Achilles Tendinosis.
As the spur enlarges, it may start to cause rubbing and irritation within shoes. This may cause irritation and redness of the skin and, in extreme cases, may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.
- Wearing open back shoes or sandals
- Heel lifts
- Use of oral anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen
- Cortisone injections (though these should be used sparingly and not placed directly in the Achilles tendon)
- Stretching exercises
- Gel heel cups
If conservative care fails to alleviate the pain, then surgery to remove the heel spur may be pursued. This is an outpatient surgical procedure which takes approximately one hour to complete. This includes partially removing the Achilles tendon from the back of the heel, removing the heel spur, debriding the tendon as needed, and reattaching the tendon to the heel. An endoscopic gastrocnemius recession is often performed in conjunction with this procedure. Ask your podiatrist about your surgical options as well as the necessary recovery.
If you would like to watch a video on heel spur removal and Achilles tendon repair, please follow this link:
(This video includes live operative footage and may be disturbing to some audiences.)
For more details about foot and ankle information in Anchorage, AK, contact us directly, and we will be happy to help you gain a better understanding of your foot conditions.