Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony outgrowths that form on normal bone, often along the edges of a joint. They most commonly appear in the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees and feet, and may cause pain when they press or rub on a nerve, tendon or ligament.
Some bone spurs form as part of the aging process when cartilage between the joints (especially in the spine and feet) breaks down and wears away, particularly in people who suffer from osteoarthritis.
Bone spurs are also common in the feet, often forming in response to inflammation of the tendons or ligaments caused by running, dancing, or wearing ill-fitting shoes. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, for example, may cause bone spurs at the back of the heel. Plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of the long ligament on the sole of the foot, may cause bone spurs on the underside of the heel (heel spurs).
Individuals with bone spurs may experience the following symptoms; however, most bone spurs cause no symptoms or problems at all:
- Numbness or tingling
- Swelling and tenderness
- Difficulty walking
- Development of corns or calluses
Bone spurs do not typically require treatment unless they are causing pain or damaging surrounding tissues.
Your physician may recommend rest, ice, stretching, anti-inflammatory medications, or weight loss to take some pressure off of the joint. Treatment for bone spurs in the foot may be as simple as changing your footwear to take pressure off the spur. Bone spurs can also be surgically removed in the case of serious damage or deformity.