Diagnosing Heel Spurs

A Heel Spur is a debilitating condition which causes discomfort across the entire foot. Typically a quarter of an inch in length, heel spurs are caused by the development of a bony growth known as a calcium deposit, extending between the heel bone and arch. Whilst it may normally appear at the front of the heel, heel spurs can often expand to affect other parts of the foot as well.

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What causes a Heel Spur?

Heel Spurs are typically brought on as a result of long-term muscle and ligament strain. Over time, excessive strain on your ligaments can stretch out the heel’s soft tissues and wear them out.

Since Heel Spurs are a progressive condition, they won’t appear suddenly after a workout or sports event – a common misconception. They will often be brought on as a result of repetitive stress from walking, jumping or running on hard surfaces.

Here are some other causes of heel spurs:

  • Heel Bruising.
  • Gender. Heel Spurs are typically more common in women than men.
  • Age. Heel Spur onset increases in likelihood as you get older.
  • Weight. Heel spurs tend to be more common in overweight individuals.
  • Walking Gait Issues.
  • Arthritis.
  • Incorrect Footwear. Over wearing flimsy footwear like flip flops can heighten the risk.

What are the common symptoms of a Heel Spur?

The most common symptom of a Heel Spur is a feeling of pain, inflammation and swelling at the front of the heel. The affected area is also often warm to the touch and is said to feel as if you’ve stood on a knife when first standing up. Throughout the rest of the day, the pain will lessen into more of a dull ache, with the point of tenderness at the bottom of the heel making it difficult to walk barefoot.

Over time, Heel Spur pain can spread to other areas of your foot away from the heel. Eventually, a small bone-like protrusion may start to appear, which then helps confirm the presence of a spur.

How are Heel Spurs diagnosed?

Depending on the severity of the Heel Spur, it can be fairly difficult to diagnose one accurately. This is because the condition shares a lot of similarities with plantar fasciitis, in terms of the type of pain felt and the area which causes the issue. One key difference comes through the longevity of each condition though; heel spurs are there permanently, whereas plantar fasciitis can subside over time.

Another diagnostic difficulty comes through the fact that some heel spurs don’t cause any symptoms at all. Research shows that only 50% of people with heel spurs actually experience any sort of pain from them.

Detecting a heel spur is, therefore, difficult to do on your own, so if you’re worried that you might have one, you should contact a professional. Our podiatrists here at the Sussex Foot Centre are specially trained to detect a wide range of foot conditions. Listed below are some of the main diagnostic methods we employ:

  • X-ray. An X-ray allows your podiatrist to rule out other causes of foot pain, such as a breakage or stress fracture. They also enable underlying bone-like growths to be easily identified.
  • Heel Spurs Ultrasound. The most accurate method for identifying a heel spur comes via a foot ultrasound. This painless procedure produces accurate images of your foot’s interior muscles and tendons, allowing your podiatrist to visualise any issues.
Heel pain treatment

What is the process for a heel spurs ultrasound?

A ‘Heel Spurs Ultrasound’ is entirely painless and only takes approximately 20 minutes.

The technique is used to produce accurate images of muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons within your lower limbs. In visualising these internal components, this makes it a lot easier for your podiatrist to see the extent of any issues at hand.

This is what the process typically involves:

  1. A small quantity of jelly-like gel will be applied to your ankle/calf area.
  2. Your podiatrist will then move a handheld device across the affected area. This device will use sound waves to capture internal images of your foot and heel. These images will then be shown on an ultrasound monitor in real time, allowing you to see exactly what your podiatrist sees.
  3. Using these images, your podiatrist will then be able to quickly identify whether there is an issue. If there is, they will then determine what the best course of treatment is for you.
  4. Your podiatrist will then talk through with you about what they found, and discuss what the next best steps will be.
  5. You will then start on the appropriate treatment plan, as recommended by your podiatrist.

How are Heel Spurs treated?

Treating a Heel Spur depends on the severity of the issue. However, the most common treatment options typically include:

  • Ice. This can help to reduce swelling.
  • Painkillers. Anti-inflammatory painkillers reduce pain and inflammation and help with swelling.
  • Stretching. Podiatrist-recommended stretching exercises help strengthen affected muscles and tendons.
  • Rest. Avoiding putting weight on your heel gives it the chance to properly recover.
  • Orthotics. Fitted to the exact contours of your feet and manufactured on site, orthotics are designed to alter the load on your foot and heel, helping ease your pain.

If you are struggling with a pain in the base of your heel, or can feel a bone-like lump protruding out, contact us today to book a heel spurs ultrasound. Our team here at the Sussex Foot Centre are specially trained to diagnose an array of lower limb-related issues.

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34 Sussex Road, Haywards Heath, Sussex RH16 4EA

We are trusted by our clients

Great, friendly service. Would happily recommend.
J K
J K
09/05/2022
I was in so much pain with my right foot because I got a cyst in it and just found Sussex Foot Centre in google and called them for booking appointment. The person I talked with was so helpful and they offered appointment on the same day. Everybody working at this place were so friendly and experienced. At my first appointment I had a consultation with ultrasound scan and clearly described me the next steps what would solve my problem and it really reassured me because I was so scared and tired from the pain and for long waiting time on GP referrals. For the treatment, I got an appointment on next day (again so fast!!) and already when I came out from the Centre could walk much better and the pain disappeared. I am so grateful for them and still going back for regular checking and advices. I also having issues with my nails too and I am sure I could get a quick solution on those issue too! Everybody having issue with their foot please don't hesitate to get in touch with Sussex Foot Centre - just give a try and I am sure you will don't disappoint! For me honestly was a life-saver. Thank you so much!
Tundi Bodi
Tundi Bodi
03/05/2022
Highly recommended due to efficient, spotless, courteous staff with on time treatment. You could take a good step forward by using this team.
Brian Beesley
Brian Beesley
03/05/2022
Excellent podiatrist- knowledgeable, professional, caring and quick. Thanks!
Murdo Guy
Murdo Guy
25/04/2022
I can't thank this gentlemen enough. Pain in my foot had effected my whole life, no running, no water aerobics no tai chi and most of all no work as I'm a cook. Scan first visit, problem located plan worked out, return week later double appointment as we live hour away. Another scan, walk on treadmil, insole made...meanwhile he explained everything, so I could understand. I. Very impressed with the whole experience, and would recommend them to anyone
lyn murphy
lyn murphy
15/04/2022
I have had toe nail surgeries with the Sussex Foot Centre and both times have had very positive experiences. Jon provided excellent treatment and care during the surgeries and in the follow up post surgeries. Jon and Thomas were professional and friendly and they have been so flexible and accommodating with scheduling appointments, as well as providing quick responses by email and telephone. I would recommend the Sussex Foot Centre. Thank you so much!
Josephine Zamat
Josephine Zamat
08/04/2022
Jon Collins and team provide excellent patient focused, customer focused care. I have not met a better podiatrist than Jon in over 30 years in healthcare management and 10 years as a patient. As you step into reception you are welcomed with both smile and greeting. Even though it is a busy practice, changes in appointment are politely and readily managed. Forgetfulness and a missed appointment are taken in their stride! I attended first as an ”emergency” patient, three years ago. I was at the local hospital and the Sussex Foot Centre was suggested. I was seen the same afternoon. After months of hobbling, Jon treated my foot with professional skill, exuding warm reassurance. Regular attendance and treatment ensured rapid improvement. The specially created insole proved to be a boon. I have remained with Jon as my podiatrist for three years now. I can think of no reason why I should go elsewhere. I have no hesitancy in recommendinng him. When my GP asked me why I go over to Haywards Heath, my reply was that he is the best.
Malcolm Boyland
Malcolm Boyland
05/04/2022
The treatment and service from Sussex Foot Clinic was excellent and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Over the counter and home remedies had failed miserably. Investing in some professional treatment and following it through diligently was well worth it. Thank you Jon.
E M Drake
E M Drake
24/03/2022
I found The Sussex Foot Centre via Google and what a find! I started seeing Jon last summer with painful Plantar Fasciitis in both feet. With Jon’s knowledge, non invasive treatment and orthotics, I am so grateful to him for my pain free feet now! Jon and his team are so helpful, with total professionalism and extensive knowledge - I have learnt so much! Tom on reception is also so very friendly and efficient. Keep up the amazing work you all do.
Lisa Bailey
Lisa Bailey
21/03/2022
A first class service. A friendly, highly professional medical approach . I have had effective, pain-free treatment for my footcare. Highly commended.
Ollie Swan
Ollie Swan
20/03/2022