What Is a Bone Spur?

April 1, 2022 8:13 am Published by

Bone spurs can be a real pain in the foot (heels especially), but what exactly is it? If you’ve been wondering about bone spurs, potential bone spur treatment possibilities, the truth about prevention, and what can happen if one isn’t treated, read on!

Well… What IS a Bone Spur?

Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, can happen when extra bone is formed on the edges of your bones— particularly in the joints. Unlike the spurs on the boots of the cowboys in your favorite western movie, bone spurs are typically a smooth growth of bone and can be painful when pressure is applied to the area. In the case of a bone spur in your foot, pain can occur when walking or moving your body depending on the bone spur’s size and exact location. 

Bone spurs may occur in many places in the body including in these areas:

  • Neck.
  • Shoulder.
  • Spine.
  • Back.
  • Hip.
  • Knee.
  • Heel of your foot.
  • Sole of your foot.

Causes of Bone Spurs in the Foot

Generally, bone spurs in your foot can develop when the rubbery, natural padding between bones in your joints wear down. This damage commonly happens with age, especially from osteoarthritis. 

Bone spurs may also develop following a severe injury to a joint or tendon. A bone spur often grows because it’s the body’s answer to repairing the damage in the injured area. Sometimes, these bone growths are not painful, and are only spotted during X-rays for unrelated reasons.

Bone Spur Treatment and Prevention

If you have a sharp, pin-like ache in the back of your foot, it could be a symptom of a bone spur. First, check that the symptoms you are experiencing are a match for a bone spur diagnosis, and reach out to a professional podiatrist so they can rule out other potential conditions. In the meantime, there are some ways you can relieve the pain at home with the following:

  • Ice press to reduce swelling and relieve pressure on the joint.
  • At-home stretches including foot flexes and calf stretches, which can offer some relief.
  • Shoe adjustments that offer the extra support and cushioning your feet need.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines that can reduce the swelling and ease the pain associated with bone spurs.
  • A diet high in vitamin D and calcium to promote healthy tissue growth.

Unfortunately, bone spurs due to arthritis are not preventable, and they don’t go away on their own. However, working with your podiatrist to manage arthritis in your foot and relieving the pain in the damaged areas, can get you feeling better in no time. If necessary, your podiatrist can also talk to you about other options such as night splints, physical therapy, and surgery. 

What Happens if a Bone Spur Is Left Untreated?

If the underlying causes and symptoms of your bone spur are left untreated, it can cause further joint and tissue damage, increased swelling, and worsening pain.

A piece of the protruding bone can even break off and get stuck in your joint, causing a “locked” joint and decreased mobility. When bone spur pieces are left to wreak havoc on your joint, sometimes surgery is unavoidable. Make sure you reach out to your podiatrist if you suspect a growing bone spur is the cause of your troubles.

Don’t Let Bone Spurs Bring You Down

If you’re experiencing pain in your foot due to possible bone spurs or other foot-related issues, our team of experienced podiatrists is ready to get you back on your feet. 

Have questions? From diagnosis to expert treatment options, we’re here to help.


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