What are the symptoms?
Many people have bone spurs without ever knowing
it, because most bone spurs cause no 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 when tissue builds up to provide
added padding over the bone spur.
How are bone spurs diagnosed?
A bone spur is usually visible on an
X-ray. But since most bone spurs do not cause problems, it would be
unusual to take an X-ray just to see whether you have a bone spur. If you had
an X-ray to evaluate one of the problems associated with bone spurs, such as
arthritis, bone spurs would be visible on that X-ray.
How are they treated?
Bone spurs do not require
treatment unless they are causing pain or damaging other tissues. When needed,
treatment may be directed at the causes, the symptoms, or the bone spurs
Treatment directed at the cause of bone spurs may
include weight loss to take some pressure off the joints (especially when
osteoarthritis or plantar fasciitis is the cause) and stretching the affected
area, such as the heel cord and bottom of the foot. Seeing a physical therapist
for ultrasound or deep tissue massage may be helpful for plantar fasciitis or
Treatment directed at symptoms could include rest,
ice, stretching, and
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as
ibuprofen. Education in how to protect your joints is helpful if you have
osteoarthritis. If a bone spur is in your foot, changing footwear or adding
padding or a shoe insert such as a heel cup or orthotic may help. If the bone
spur is causing corns or calluses, padding the area or wearing different shoes
can help. A podiatrist (foot doctor) may 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
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.