Heel & Ankle Spurs Treatment in St. Louis
You may have heard of bone spurs in passing, but what is this medical condition? A bone spur is a growth that pokes out of the normal bone. It usually happens near the joints. Our team at Horizon Foot & Ankle can answer your questions to help you get the treatment plan best for you.
What Causes Bones Spurs?
Bone spurs can occur in several places in the body, but they’re usually caused by the same issue: inflammation. For example, bone spurs in the heel are often the result of plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation that affects the plantar fascia.
What Are the Common Symptoms?
This medical condition can be painful, and symptoms may interfere with your daily life, especially if you’re active. The most common symptoms include:
- Loss of motion
- Difficulty walking
- Stiffness in ankles and toes
- Corns between or on toes
What are the Treatment Options?
The good news is that there are many treatments available, which your physician recommends depends on your condition's severity. In extreme cases, you may have to undergo bone spur surgery. Mild cases, on the other hand, can be treated with over-the-counter medications and home remedies.
Plantar Fascia Release
If the bone spur is caused by inflammation of your plantar fascia, you can find relief with a partial release procedure. This surgery removes the bone spur and relieves tissue tension by partially cutting the ligament that connects your toes to your heel bone.
If you have a limited range of motion that stretching fails to treat, a gastrocnemius recession may be an option. This procedure relieves plantar fasciitis stress by lengthening the gastrocnemius muscles located in the calf.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
ESWT is a non-invasive treatment that can treat damaged plantar fascia tissue. It’s not as consistent as other treatments but is favored before surgery due to the low risk of complications.
Physical therapy is almost always tried before surgery, as it can often treat issues without invasive techniques. To start, your physical therapist will create a program to treat your specific symptoms and the underlying cause. This program can include any of the following:
- Ice treatments
Night splints are highly effective in treating plantar fasciitis as you sleep. As the name implies, they’re worse at night to stretch the plantar fascia instead of allowing it to relax. This can alleviate morning heel pain.
Orthotics are shoe inserts made of silicone; they provide cushioning for the heel, alleviating ligament and muscle tension as you walk. Shoes that are already built to be supportive and cushioning are also a great option.
Steroids are a powerful tool against inflammation, which is why cortisone injections can be used to treat plantar fasciitis. However, they do come with a risk of the ligament tearing, so physicians approach this treatment with care.
Regular stretching and exercise can prevent muscle tension, which can alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. In fact, it’s one of the first treatments doctors prescribe.
Minor symptoms can often be treated by home remedies under your doctor’s direction. One option, which we mentioned earlier in connection with physical therapy, is to ice the area. This can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
If the pain is unmanageable, you can also use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Naproxen and ibuprofen are both excellent options.
Finally, resting your feet can alleviate pain caused by activity. If the pain persists, then it’s time to consider the other treatments listed.
Which Treatment Is Right for You?
To determine the best course of action, the physicians at our St. Louis, MO, location will examine you and review your medical history. We often try non-invasive treatments first to avoid long recovery times. However, if these don’t resolve the issue, our doctors may recommend bone spur surgery.
What Can You Expect During the Healing Process?
You’ll need at least three weeks after the surgery for recovery, though some patients require up to six. During this time, you’ll need to rest and follow the stretching and flexibility exercises given by your physical therapist and podiatrist. These exercises ensure your foot heals correctly.
During recovery, you’ll also need to avoid putting too much weight on the foot. To help you in your daily activities, you may be given a boot to wear for the first few weeks of recovery. The boot provides support and cushioning.
What Should You Avoid After Surgery?
The podiatrists from our St. Louis, MO, location recommend avoiding certain activities after your surgery:
- Heavy lifting
These activities place too much stress on your feet and put you at risk of injury. Even after you’re able to return to your usual routine, you may not be able to do intense physical activity. In fact, it’s recommended you wait at least three months before attempting any of the above.
What Shoes Should You Wear If You Have Bone Spurs?
The right shoes can alleviate the discomfort caused by bone spurs and even prevent your condition’s progression. There’s no one brand or shoe type that works best; instead, you should look for the following when choosing your footwear.
Perhaps most important to comfort and support is cushioning. It’s important to note that “cushioning” doesn’t equal “soft.” Instead, you want a sole that’s springy and propels you forward.
A flexible rearfoot offers little support and can cause strain. The rearfoot, which encompasses the heel and back part of the shoe, shouldn’t easily bend as you walk.
Supportive Heel Cup
Supportive heel cups can do the following:
- Reduce heel slipping
- Hold heel bottom
- Provide firm fabric on heel back
Plantar fasciitis can be exacerbated by heel strain, so getting the proper support in this area is essential.
While the rearfoot should be firm, the forefoot needs to be flexible to reduce strain when you walk. The toes of your shoes should bend with your gait, facilitating a smooth forward motion.
How Can Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute Help?
Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute serves patients in St. Louis, MO, and the surrounding area. We understand how foot issues can impact your quality of life, which is why our medical professionals work to find the right course of treatment for you.
The Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute team is dedicated to helping patients reclaim their lives from pain and limited mobility. If you suspect you have bone spurs, it’s time to give us a call. You can schedule an appointment by dialing (314) 381-1800 or contacting us online.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Suttha Burawonk
HORIZON FOOT & ANKLE INSTITUTE
6400 Clayton Rd, Suite 412
Saint Louis, MO 63117