At Kansas City Foot and Ankle and the Heel Pain Center of Kansas City, one of the most common problems we see is heel pain. While it is true that many patients with heel pain have heel spurs, heel spurs are not usually the cause of pain in the heels.
There was a time when the medical community felt that heel spurs were the cause of heel pain, and if a heel spur was identified on x-ray, the spur was removed surgically. Since then, our understanding of heel pain has come a long way, and we know that in most cases, the spur is incidental to the pain, and not the cause. Heel pain usually comes from inflammation that develops due to instability, overuse and excessive tightness in the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that attach to the heel bone and not from the spur itself. Heel spurs form because the plantar fascia pulls excessively where it attaches to the heel bone, leading to chronic inflammation over the years, which eventually causes part of the fascia to calcify and become bone.
Generally, it is very easy to demonstrate this finding to patients by reviewing their x-rays with them. Heel pain may only be present in one foot, but a heel spur may be present in the non-painful foot. A heel spur is a result of a long-standing abnormality that has led to inflammation and the resulting spur and should be taken as a warning sign that there is some degree of tightness and inflammation at the heel suggesting that heel pain could develop on that side at some point. We also commonly see heel spurs on x-rays when a patient comes in for something other than heel pain. They may not even be experiencing heel pain, but have the abnormal foot mechanics that has led to the development of the spur.
By addressing the abnormal forces that are leading to inflammation (as well as the development of the spur), heel pain is almost always treated successfully without surgery. The spurs almost never need to be surgically removed and by treating the tightness and inflammation of the plantar fascia the pain almost always resolves. Get rid of the inflammation and the pain goes away. Address the cause of the inflammation, and the pain stays away. Our doctors are experts at relieving your heel pain without a trip to the operating room.
If you have heel pain or heel spurs, the Heel Pain Center of Kansas City and the doctors at Kansas City Foot and Ankle can help! Call (816) 943-1111 today, to learn how we can get you back to your active lifestyle, quickly and comfortably.