Your heels are the largest of the 26 bones in your feet. This means when your heel has a problem, you have a problem. While many people can soldier on through heel pain for some time, many heel conditions are degenerative, meaning they get worse over time. Ultimately, heel problems can become overwhelmingly painful and incapacitating, disrupting day-to-day functioning and devastating quality-of-life.
At JAWSpodiatry, we always look for non-surgical treatment options for foot and ankle problems whenever possible. But some heel problems are so serious that they require surgery to fully resolve. When heel surgery is required, it is important for patients to know what to expect.
What Causes Heel Problems?
Heel pain is often related to plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a biomechanical condition caused by immense and ongoing pressure that damages the ligament and causes pain or stiffness at the sole of the foot. Other causes of heel pain at the bottom of the foot include stone bruises and heel spurs. Heel pain behind the heel is usually caused by bursitis which is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon and is typically due to over exercise or uncomfortable shoes.
When is Surgery Required?
The good news is that the vast majority – about 95% – of plantar fasciitis cases can be effectively treated with more conservative, non-invasive treatments. But when pain is not relieved and mobility not improved by treatments such as icing, stretches, orthotic inserts, and rest after nine to twelve months of treatment, surgery may be recommended.
Heel surgery generally involves either the release of the plantar fascia or the removal of a spur.
This may be accomplished with a small incision on the bottom of the heel or on the side of the heel. The surgeon will identify the plantar fascia and cut the ligament free from the heel bone.
Heel surgery is an outpatient procedure which can be performed under either local or general anesthesia, depending on the doctor’s recommendation or the patient’s preference. When the surgery is completed, usually within an hour or two, the surgeon will apply a gauze dressing and then place the foot in a post-operative shoe and cast that can keep pressure off the foot and speed the healing process.
After the surgery, it is important that the patient keep any pressure or weight off the affected foot, especially during the first week. This may include the use of crutches or canes. Not only is this crucial for healing, but also because of instability, foot cramps, stress fractures, or tendonitis which can develop if the heel is stressed before it has a chance to fully repair itself. You may have to see your surgeon again after the surgery to have any sutures removed. It can take three weeks or more after the surgery for you to be able to walk normally without discomfort.
As with any surgical procedure, it is also extremely important that you follow any specific post-surgery instructions your doctor provides.
Call the Hollywood, Florida Foot and Ankle Specialists at JAWS podiatry Today
Heel surgery is just one of the many podiatric surgical and non-surgical procedures we perform at JAWS podiatry. Our foot and ankle specialists will explore all possible alternatives to see if a non-surgical solution can address your problem. But if we do recommend surgery, our experienced podiatrist will perform your procedure with the utmost care and precision, using the most advanced technology and methods. Please call us today at (954) 922-7333 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.