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Heel spur surgery

Posted by Frank B on 5/08/03 at 15:50 (118112)

I have been under a podiatrist's care for heel spurs in my right foot for about four months. Despite custom orthotics and 3 shots of cortisone, I still have pain when I walk. The pain has improved some, but I still can't walk any great distances. My doctor has suggested the possibility of surgery. The weird thing is he thinks the problem is caused by the fact that my big toe doesn't flex as far as it should.So the surgery he recommends is one to fix the toe. I have done some research and have not come across any information on this surgery. Is it common? Can it help?

Re: Heel spur surgery

Pauline on 5/08/03 at 16:52 (118122)

I'm no doctor, but before you have this surgery try exercises to see if you can gain more flexibility in the toe. See if you can improve it on your own.

What my big time fear is that you will have the surgery and be no better off. Spend some time reading the surgery board and see how many posters have had surgery only to report they are now left with more pain.

Foot surgery sounds great, the magic bullet that promises you'll be pain free, but unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the case. Even the doctors here will tell you to try ESWT for P.F. before under going surgery.

If I had had all the surgeries suggested to me by various podiatrist since 1997 I would have had toe surgery to straighten one that was curved, my big toe nail completely removed, my neuroma cut out, my plantar fascia cut, an extra bone in my ankle (ha never there) removed and a beginning bunion shaved. A real bunion never developed I might add.

To date I've had none of them and my feet are just fine. I have all TEN of my toe nails polished weekly even the one that 'just had to come out'

Conservative treatment by an Orthopedic Surgeon save me a lot of pain and unnecessary surgeries.

Take your time, there is no magic treatment for P.F. that will guarantee you'll be pain free following any foot surgery. Do all your homework ahead of time, get second and even third opinions and by all means avoid
foot surgery if at all possible. My opinion, your decision.

Re: Heel spur surgery

Frank B on 5/08/03 at 20:16 (118133)

Thanks for your advice, Pauline. I have the same fears, that's why I posted here. I have been receiving ESWT for about a month now and haven't had too much success. It's good to here you have improved without surgery. That's exactly what I need to hear. Maybe I should try some different stretches. Thanks again.

Re: Heel spur surgery

Pauline on 5/08/03 at 21:26 (118140)

Julie posted some very good stretches which you can find by doing a search.
P.F. takes time to go away. I think I read a minimum of 6-8 months. My last case took just about 3 years.

I'm one of the fortunate people who does not have to work, so staying off my feet was not a problem. For people who have families to care for or a job to return to it's a real BIG problem.

Remember muscles take time to stretch. It doesn't happen over night, but I still think if and when you can avoid any type of surgery your better off. In the mean time do more homework. Read the surgery board, research the various types of surgery available, get a second opinion, rest your feet as much as possible, tape, ice and use anti-infammatory medications if you can.

Believe me if and when you decide to have surgery you'll have more questions to ask, be better prepared and probably won't end up having your toe cut.

Keep posting, stick with the program and never give up.

Re: Heel spur surgery

SteveG on 5/08/03 at 23:05 (118148)

Frank - you are early in the game for both PF and ESWT. Many patients don't experience any relief from ESWT for 8-12 weeks - sometimes longer, and Pauline is exactly right, you have a lot of time and treatment options before you consider surgery. I have had it for over a year and a half, and I just completed my second round of ESWT. I did not notice any improvement for a least 7-8 weeks after my initial treatment. So hang in there and follow Pauline's advice - it is way too early for you to consider surgery.

Re: Heel spur surgery

Dr. David S. Wander on 5/09/03 at 19:35 (118205)


As stated above, I would certainly not recommend surgery, especially at this point. Although surgery can often be successful, the surgery for your problem can also have a significant number of complications. In my experience, ESWT can take up to 16 weeks for relief. I am not a strong supporter of standing/weightbearing stretches, since I believe that this often leads to overstretching and increased discomfort. I would suggest a night splint, and my personal preference is the Strassburg Sock, which is comfortable and allows the soft tissues to stretch passively while you are sleeping. In your posting you didn't mention anything about support for your feet or the type of shoes you are wearing. In my practice I have found a very economical treatment protocol that often has excellent results for many of the heel pain patients seen in my office.

1) A Strassburg Sock as a night splint (around 30-40 dollars)

2) PowerStep inserts (around 35-40 dollars)

3) A pair of Merrell shoes (around 60-90 dollars)

The stretching, support of the PowerSteps and the support and cushioning and comfort of the Merrell's often results in significant relief for many patients. I have no financial interest in any of the above companies. Hope this helps.