How to Treat Bone Spurs
Have you been experiencing a sharp pain in your foot, but you can’t figure out why? Chances are that you have developed a condition called bone spurs.
A bone spur is a small bony growth or a collection of growths which form on joints like the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and the feet. While we will be focusing on the feet, much of the information below will apply to bone spur treatment in general:
Bone Spurs: Causes
A bone spur occurs when the body attempts to repair itself by building extra bone on areas affected by long periods of pressure, rubbing, or stress.
Bone spurs rarely cause pain on their own. If they grow on the feet, however, calluses may form to cushion the affected area. As the wear and tear on the joints continue, the spurs may compress the surrounding ligaments, tendons, or nerves. This results in injury to the surrounding tissue, in addition to swelling, pain, and tearing.
There are several factors which may contribute to a bone spur. The aging process is partly to blame: cartilage, which covers the ends of bones in a joint, slowly wears away due to a process called osteoarthritis. The damage to the joints will lead to pain and swelling, and will often result in a bone spur. Osteoarthritis is a common cause of bone spurs in joints of the feet and spine.
Tight ligaments will also make you more vulnerable to bone spurs. Many factors can cause this tightness, including strenuous activities which affect the feet like dancing, running, long periods of walking, basketball, and tennis. Other factors include:
- Obesity: excess weight will result in excess pressure on the feet.
- Tight-fitting shoes (like high-heels) can put undue pressure on the feet, causing stress and tightness in the foot, particularly in the heel. Shoes which lack proper arch support, like worn-out shoes, can worsen this problem as well.
- Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament. Repeated stretching and tearing of the plantar fascia and other muscles in the feet can lead to increased wear and tear on the heel.
- Abnormalities in walking.
- Occupations which require long periods of standing.
- Flat feet or high arches.
Bone Spurs: Treatment
Bone spurs rarely require treatment, unless they cause frequent pain or damage to surrounding tissues. Unless these symptoms are present, it is difficult to detect a bone spur without an X-ray (though it is rare to use an X-ray for this condition, since it rarely causes symptoms). Since heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are closely related, many of the same treatment methods for plantar fasciitis will be used for bone spurs as well. Consider these tips to find relief:
- Resting from the activity causing the bone spur will be recommended. If it cannot be avoided (due to an occupation, for example), ice the affected area immediately after the activity is finished.
- If you have a heel spur, warming up before a strenuous activity and stretching the calf muscles may also be helpful. These stretches will gently lengthen the calf muscle, relaxing the tissue surrounding the heel. Commit to stretching several times throughout the day, particularly in the morning and after a prolonged period of sitting or standing, when the muscles in the feet are stiffest.
- If osteoarthritis or plantar fasciitis are causing pain or damage, weight loss will reduce pressure on the joints and mitigate symptoms.
- Learn how to take proper care of your joints.
- Visit a physical therapist to have an ultrasound or deep tissue massage, especially if your pain is related to plantar fasciitis.
- Wear shoes with good arch and heel support. Try using an orthotic insert in your shoe, to add more support or padding for a corn or callus.
- A doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid injection to reduce pain and inflammation. This will be more of a last resort, since side effects may exacerbate symptoms, especially with heel spurs.
- Discuss surgical removal of the bone spur, which will loosen the plantar fascia.
Consult the Experts
Bone spurs are difficult to detect, and the volume of potential variables related to foot pain can make it difficult to determine the cause. If you’re suffering from foot pain, schedule your consultation with expert podiatrist Dr. Vikki today. Dr. Vikki has a reputed record of patient satisfaction, and is the trusted podiatrist of Special Olympic athletes.
For this and all related foot care concerns, the caring professionals at Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center are happy to help with your podiatric needs.