How to diagnose heel spurs

How to diagnose heel spursHeel spurs are bone growths that form on the bottom of the foot that can cause heel pain. Heel spurs can also occur with conditions such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. They can be caused by both muscle and ligament strains in the foot, particularly when the tissue connecting the heel to the ball of the foot gets overstretched. If you are experiencing heel pain and possibly heel spurs, it is important to consult with a podiatrist. A podiatrist will be able to properly diagnose heel spurs by having an X-ray taken, and provide treatment solutions such as stretching exercises or physical therapy.

Heel spurs can be incredibly painful and sometimes may make you unable to participate in physical activities. To get medical care for your heel spurs, contact Dr. Murad M. Abdel-qader from Advanced Family Foot Care Centers. Our doctor will do everything possible to treat your condition.

Heels Spurs

Heel spurs are formed by calcium deposits on the back of the foot where the heel is. This can also be caused by small fragments of bone breaking off one section of the foot, attaching onto the back of the foot. Heel spurs can also be bone growth on the back of the foot and may grow in the direction of the arch of the foot.

Older individuals usually suffer from heel spurs and pain sometimes intensifies with age. One of the main condition’s spurs are related to is plantar fasciitis.


The pain associated with spurs is often because of weight placed on the feet. When someone is walking, their entire weight is concentrated on the feet. Bone spurs then have the tendency to affect other bones and tissues around the foot. As the pain continues, the feet will become tender and sensitive over time.


There are many ways to treat heel spurs. If one is suffering from heel spurs in conjunction with pain, there are several methods for healing. Medication, surgery, and herbal care are some options.

If you have any questions feel free to contact our office located in San Antonio, TX . We offer the latest in diagnostic and treatment technology to meet your needs.

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How to diagnose heel spurs

Your foot is a complex network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints all working together to keep you upright and mobile. When it’s injured or infected, it can literally stop you in your tracks. But the term foot pain covers a lot of ground. Depending on where it’s located, what triggers it, how you describe it, and what caused it, it could be anything from an ingrown toenail or a bunion to Achilles tendonitis or arthritis , just to name a few conditions.

But if you suspect a heel spur , a bony growth on the front part of your heel, the only way to know for sure is to seek the help of a qualified podiatrist like Dr. Gary Kazmer at Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers . Because the symptoms of a heel spur often overlap with symptoms of other foot problems, he expertly evaluates your foot to give you an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan.

Heel spurs are tricky to self-diagnose, but here are a few signs that can help you narrow down the possibilities and prompt you to come in and see Dr. Kazmer.

Foot pain 101

Inflammation is one of the main causes of pain in any part of the body, and your foot is no different. Inflammation could either be the primary source of your pain or a secondary source. A thorough exam will give us some definite answers.

If you think you might have a heel spur, it helps to rule out a few symptoms first. As we mentioned, foot pain could point to a lot of different conditions, so we start by asking some questions.

Where does it hurt?

There are three main parts of your foot’s anatomy: The forefoot (toes), the midfoot (arch), and the hindfoot (heel and ankle). If you feel pain in the forefoot or midfoot, we can feasibly rule out a heel spur.

If you have pain in your hindfoot, you might be a heel spur.

What does it look like?

While pain in your hindfoot area may or may not indicate a heel spur, there’s one telltale sign that generally can’t be mistaken: you can see it. A heel spur, which can grow up to a half an inch long, often protrudes at an angle that can be seen and felt externally.

When does it hurt?

Does your pain begin later in the day when you’re tired and been standing or walking for hours, or do you feel it first thing in the morning when your feet hit the floor?

Heel spurs tend to make themselves known upon first use of the day. They share this symptom with another condition called plantar fasciitis . Both are notorious for making the morning walk across the bedroom a painful journey.

Heel spur or plantar fasciitis, which is it?

Making it even more difficult to tell whether you have a heel spur, morning pain isn’t the only symptom shared by both heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. They both also cause sharp pain in the same spot: the front of your heel.

The difference is that, with plantar fasciitis, you’ll also have arch pain. That’s because plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick band of tissue that connects your heel to the ball of your foot, so you feel pain all along the length of it — heel spur pain stays put.

Although the two conditions are closely linked, plantar fasciitis can lead to heel spurs, but heel spurs don’t necessarily lead to plantar fasciitis.

Typical causes of plantar fasciitis are stress, being overweight, ill-fitting shoes, and any trauma that might damage the ligament. The inflammation prompts the heel bone to build itself up with calcium deposits that form a growth (heel spur) in an attempt to support the damaged fascia. Ironically, if left untreated, the heel spur ends up doing quite a bit of damage on its own.

How to know for sure if it’s a heel spur

Even armed with all this information, the only way to tell for sure if you have a heel spur is to come in for an X-ray. In fact, many heel spurs are discovered this way even before symptoms appear. That’s because it takes several months before the growth gets long enough to cause irritation and pain.

If you think you might be suffering from a heel spur or plantar fasciitis, we can help. From exercises and orthotics to medication, injections, and splints, we can get you started on a treatment plan that will help you heal and get back on your feet soon. Give us a call to set up an appointment or use our handy online booking tool .

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Heel Spur Syndrome

As board certified foot and ankle specialists, heel pain is the most common condition we see. Heel spur syndrome, also known as Plantar Fasciitis, is a chronic, overuse type injury that occurs in people of all shapes and sizes, of all ages and activity levels. It most commonly develops without an injury and results in significant pain in the heel or arch of the foot which can be debilitating. Fortunately, heel spur syndrome can usually be treated conservatively without the need for surgery. In some rare cases, heel spur surgery may be necessary but it is performed as an outpatient procedure and patients go home the same day.

Symptoms of Heel Spur Syndrome

Patients with Plantar Fasciitis or heel spurs usually complain of pain in the bottom of the heel which is worse after rest, or in the morning when they first get out of bed. This is because the underlying problem is tightness of the plantar fascia, or the ligament on the bottom of the foot. When we’re off our feet, the ligament tightens up. When we stand, especially without proper support, the fascia is put under tension, and if not flexible enough, it will pull on the heel bone where it attaches. This causes severe pain and inflammation, and can eventually tear the ligament. Further, the constant tension on the bone causes new bone to form in the shape of a spur on the bottom of the heel. Despite popular belief, the heel spur itself, when on the bottom of the foot, does not cause pain – the tight ligament causes the pain, which can have a severe impact on the patients’ activity levels and even their ability to walk!

Conservative Treatment for Heel Spur Syndrome

Heel spur syndrome or Plantar Fasciitis often resolves with conservative treatment, and surgery is not typically required. Treatment for heel pain usually consists of stretching, arch support and anti-inflammatory medicine. Proper stretching is done by keeping the knee straight and pulling the foot back toward the leg. One will feel the stretch in the bottom of the foot and the calf muscle as well. Arch support must be rigid to be effective in preventing excessive pull of the ligament on the heel bone. Most over the counter insoles do not provide adequate support to treat this condition. While oral anti-inflammatories such as Advil, Aleve or Motrin may be effective, Cortisone injections provide more immediate and effective relief. For cases of partially torn, degenerated fascia, Amniotic Fluid Injections may be used by the Podiatrists at Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists for treatment, which is a strong anti-inflammatory, to accelerate healing. PRP( Platelet Rich Plasma) therapy and Stem Cell injections are options as well, but in our experience are less effective than Amniotic Fluid for this condition.

Heel Spur Surgery

Surgery may be indicated in the rare case of Plantar Fasciitis which does not respond to conservative treatment. In our experience, the most effective heel spur surgery is the Endoscopic Plantar Fasciotomy, or EPF. This “per cutaneous procedure” or minimally invasive procedure is performed under anesthesia in a surgery center or hospital as an outpatient. It takes approximately 15 minutes. A small camera is introduced through a tiny incision in the heel and the instrument through another small incision on the other side of the foot. Under visualization through the scope, the ligament is released which gets rid of the tension on the bone, which is causing the pain. Stitches remain for 2 weeks and patients return to activity as tolerated. Success rates are excellent and complication rates are low. Some Podiatrists may recommend open surgery with large incisions to release the fascia or remove the heel spur, but this is not necessary in the vast majority of cases.

How to diagnose heel spurs

Stress Fracture, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome and Medial Calcaneal Nerve Entrapment

If heel pain is not responding to conservative treatment, there is most likely something else causing the pain, in addition to plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome. Most often, the culprit is underlying nerve entrapment. The posterior tibial nerve and its branch to the heel, the medial calcaneal nerve, may be compressed in the “tarsal tunnel”. Your foot and ankle specialist should be able to diagnose this with a physical exam and possibly using nerve conduction studies. If found to be present, tarsal tunnel syndrome typically requires surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve, and over 80% of the time, the pain will go away.

Another cause of pain in the heel which does not respond to treatment for plantar fasciitis is a calcaneal stress fracture. This pain can be reproduced by squeezing the heel and shows up on an MRI, not an x-ray. Treatment for a stress fracture in the heel bone is treated with prolonged non-weight bearing.

Haglunds Deformity or Retrocalcaneal Exostosis

Another condition that may be referred to as a heel spur is Haglunds Deformity, which is closely related to and often confused with Retrocalcaneal Exostosis or Calcified Insertional Achilles Tendonitis. This condition presents with pain in the back of the heel, not the bottom. Often in the case of Haglunds Deformity, there is a large prominence, or bone spur, on the back of the heel which is very painful in most shoes. Unfortunately, a spur on the back of the heel does not usually respond to conservative treatment and often requires surgery to remove the prominent, painful spur.