Did my heel spur go away?

Doctors commonly find heel spurs when taking x-rays for heel pain. And it seems like a reasonable assumption that the spur causes pain.  This leaves patients wondering where the spur went when their pain gets better. Did it go away? The short answer is, “No, your heel spur did not go away.”

Without knowing it, patients often give a classic description of something called plantar fasciitis when they describe their heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the ligament on the bottom of your foot and is independent of heel spurs.  Your doctor may have a high index of suspicion that you have plantar fasciitis before any exams are performed or x-rays are taken. However, there is a reason for your doctor to take x-rays other than to see if you have a spur.

Why take an x-ray?

So if the doctor is pretty certain what is going on with your foot before seeing your x-ray, why take an x-ray? By taking an x-ray, your doctor is able to check for other bone problems that cause pain, such as a stress fracture or bone tumor. If present, delaying the diagnosis can be detrimental to your long-term outcome . Additionally, some of the treatment options for plantar fasciitis should not be used if a fracture or tumor is present.  All that to say, your doctor will take x-rays not so much to see the bone spur, but to verify that your heel pain isn’t caused by something else that needs to be treated differently.

A typical plantar calcaneal spur

Will my heel spur ever go away?

Scientists believe tension on a bone will change its pattern of growth allowing a spur to develop. Studies have also found that heel spurs are present in roughly 38% of the population. Unless surgically removed, the spur will stay as it is or perhaps get larger over time. If you had a heel spur and never had surgery to remove it, the spur is still there. There are no conservative treatments available to make your spur go away. But thankfully, there are treatments available to help your pain.

So, if my heel hurts, should I go to the doctor?

Google is a great place to get answers. In fact, chances are that’s what brought you to this page. And people oftentimes use Google to look for ways to take care of their health problems. However, because other more serious problems can mimic plantar fasciitis, you should plan to get an exam with your doctor if you’re having foot pain or have noticed changes. A simple x-ray can provide reassurance about what’s not causing your pain.