A Step Beyond Physical Therapy: Surgical Treatment of Heel Spur Syndrome
Heel spur syndrome is caused by sharp or bony growths on the heel. This condition can be treated with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, heat, cold, and rest. Usually, the pain goes away within three to four months. For some patients, however, the pain continues in spite of treatment. 

This article gives an alternative for patients who don't improve with physical therapy. The authors describe a simple surgical technique developed in Cuba. The technique is done with an endoscope--a small camera-like device that is inserted into the hollow part of the bone. Using this method, doctors can find and remove bone spurs without making big incisions.

Thirty patients had this surgery five months after trying other types of treatment, including eight weeks of physical therapy. Eleven of the patients were male; 19 were female. The patients ranged in age from 20 to 60 years old. Eight had this treatment done to both feet, 30 days apart.

All of the patients had good or excellent results after surgery. By three months, the patients had little or no pain. They even returned to their normal activities.

One year after treatment, only five patients (14.7 percent) reported any pain. This residual pain was brought on by sports and resolved after going to physical therapy. 

Overall, this new surgical treatment was very successful, with few complications. There was no comparison group in the study to prove that this treatment was better than another. Still, endoscopic treatment seems to be a simple, cost-effective way to deal with heel spurs. The authors are working on a two-year follow-up, to study the results of this type of surgery over time.

Carlos E. Rodriquez Blanco, MD, et al. Endoscopic Treatment of Calcaneal Spur Syndrome: A Comprehensive Technique. In Arthroscopy. May/June 2001. Vol. 17. No. 5. Pp. 517-522.