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Bone Spurs

Bone spurs may develop on the heel, toe, or arch of the foot and typically form as a reaction to pressure or arthritis. Bone spurs may form on one or both feet and commonly affect middle-aged adults. Those who have suffered from plantar fasciitis for several years, individuals with flat feet or high arches, and those who wear high heels are at the greatest risk of developing bone spurs.

Causes of bone spurs

The causes of bone spurs vary based on the location of the spur.

Arch Spur - Bone spurs that form over the arch of the foot are often caused by trauma such as a fracture. However, they may also occur naturally over time as a result of daily wear and tear. In some cases, spurs on the arch of the foot may be caused by arthritis.

Heel Spur - Bone spurs on the heel are often associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the tissue that supports the arch separates from the heel bone and causes pain and inflammation. As the affected area becomes inflamed, calcium deposits form and gradually create bone spurs.

Toe Spur - Bone spurs on the toes often develop near a bunion and may be caused by abnormal motion near the joint.

Bone spur symptoms

Many individuals who have bone spurs never experience adverse symptoms. However, those who do have symptoms usually experience pain, redness, and inflammation in the affected area. A hard bump may also be felt under the skin where the spur is located. In some cases, corns and calluses form over the spur causing further irritation.

Treatment of bone spurs

The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and other symptoms. Basic non-surgical treatments are usually successful in treating bone spurs; however, in some cases more aggressive methods may be needed.

Non-surgical Treatment

Some non-surgical methods of relieving the pain and symptoms of bone spurs include: 

  • Getting cortisone injections. 
  • Performing stretching exercises (typically used for heel spurs to relieve tension). 
  • Resting and icing the affected area. 
  • Supporting heel with shoe inserts and night splints. 
  • Taking over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication. 
  • Trimming corns and calluses to relieve pain (although they are likely to return if spur is not removed). 
  • Undergoing energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), which uses energy pulses to promote healing (usually used after other non-surgical treatments are tried).

Surgical Treatment

If you've pursued all non-surgical treatment options for over a year without success, surgery to smooth the spur may be considered. Consult your doctor to learn about the various non-surgical and surgical treatments available.