What Are Bone Spurs and How Are They Treated?

What’s a common ailment that many people don’t even realize they have? Two words: bone spurs. In fact, around 40% of the US population has a bone spur without even knowing it! Let’s talk about these bony growths, how they form, who gets them, and how they’re treated.

What Are Bone Spurs?

Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs are a smooth overgrowth of bone that gradually form near joints. You can find them just about anywhere, but they’re most commonly found on the spine, heels, knees, hips, and shoulders. When they form in the feet, they’re generally found in the heel, on the toes, or on the top of the foot. We will be focusing on the bone spurs commonly found in your feet in this blog!

What Causes Bone Spurs?

The short answer is time, along with wear and tear in the feet. They can also form due to arthritis, chronic tension on the plantar fascia, or too much pressure on a particular area of the foot. When cartilage breaks down, your body will try to compensate by creating extra bone in an effort to repair itself, which can often lead to bone spurs.

What Are the Symptoms of Bone Spurs?

Even though bone spurs sound awfully painful, the spur itself doesn’t cause pain. If you do experience pain, however, it’s because the spur is coming into contact with tendons, muscles, nerves, and other tissue. Here are the general symptoms of bone spurs:

  • Pain or discomfort when walking, standing, or performing weight-bearing activities. Many people describe it as having a perpetual pebble in their shoes!
  • Redness and/or swelling at the affected area.
  • A visible deformity or lump in the affected area.
  • Stiffness or limited mobility in the affected joints.

So, Who’s Prone to Getting Bone Spurs?

You’re more likely to experience bone spurs as you age. It’s also a hereditary issue, so if you have family members with bone spurs, that may increase your risk as well.

Others who are more prone to getting bone spurs include:

  • Those with certain podiatric conditions including plantar fasciitis, arthritis, Achilles tendinitis, and flat feet.
  • Those who regularly wear tight, ill-fitting shoes with little support, especially heels.
  • Those who are overweight or obese.
  • Those who regularly partake in weight-bearing activities that put stress on the feet.

How Can I Prevent Getting Bone Spurs?

The faster you adhere to healthier lifestyle habits, the less likely you’ll encounter bone spurs in the future. You can help protect your feet by maintaining a healthy weight and wearing shoes that fit well and provide ample support.

How Are Bone Spurs Treated?

Bone spurs can keep growing, which is why it’s important to get them treated as soon as you can. Fortunately, there are many conservative treatment options available to help relieve the pain and discomfort you may be experiencing! These include the following:

  • Wearing orthotic inserts to provide greater arch support.
  • Physical therapy, which includes targeted stretching exercises.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Cortisone injections to address pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
  • Resting and icing the affected area, especially after performing weight-bearing activities.
  • Wearing a walking boot to alleviate pressure on the foot.

When Should I See My Podiatrist for Bone Spurs?

Call your podiatrist if you’re experiencing prolonged pain, if you notice a bump that has grown larger over time and is red or swollen in appearance, if the bump interferes with your daily life, or if you notice any numbness or burning in your foot. We will perform a physical exam on your foot and may also take an x-ray to determine if you are truly suffering from a bone spur.

Count on The Foot & Ankle Center for Help If you’re experiencing pain and suspect a bone spur, don’t wait. Call the knowledgeable, friendly doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We will examine your foot, draw up an appropriate treatment plan, and help you get back on your feet in no time. Schedule your appointment with us by calling (314) 487-9300 or request a time with us here!