What is a bone spur?
A bone spur (osteophyte) is a bony growth formed on normal bone. Most people think of something sharp when they think of a "spur," but a bone spur is just extra bone. It's usually smooth, but it can cause wear and tear or pain if it presses or rubs on other bones or soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, or nerves in the body. Common places for bone spurs include the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet.
What are the symptoms of a bone spur?
Most people don't have any symptoms. But if the bone spurs are pressing on other bones or tissues or are causing a muscle or tendon to rub, they can break that tissue down over time, causing swelling, pain, and tearing. Bone spurs in the foot can also cause corns and calluses.
Bones of the Foot
You have many bones and joints in your foot to allow the foot to adjust to your movements and to the ground. This allows you to balance, stand, walk, and run.
How is a bone spur diagnosed?
A bone spur is usually visible on an X-ray. If you're having problems related to bone spurs, such as arthritis, your doctor might order an X-ray. But most bone spurs don't cause problems.
How is a bone spur treated?
Bone spurs do not require treatment unless they are causing pain or damaging other tissues. When needed, treatment may include seeing a physical therapist for ultrasound or deep tissue massage. This may be helpful for plantar fasciitis or shoulder pain.
A podiatrist (foot doctor) may also be consulted if corns and calluses become a bigger problem. If the bone spur continues to cause symptoms, your doctor may suggest a corticosteroid injection at the painful area to reduce pain and inflammation of the soft tissues next to the bone spur.
Sometimes the bone spurs themselves are treated. Bone spurs can be surgically removed or treated as part of a surgery to repair or replace a joint when osteoarthritis has caused considerable damage and deformity. Examples might include repair of a bunion or heel spur in the foot or removal of small spurs underneath the point of the shoulder.
Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.