Diagnosing & managing bone spurs

A bone spur, or exostosis, is an extra growth of bone tissue in a particular area, creating a small protrusion. This bump may be smooth and rounded, or it may be more pointed. Bone spurs are usually benign, and usually develops as the result of pressure and friction. Excessive strain from a tight tendon or ligament can pull on the bone and cause the body to build up bone spurs as well. This is particularly common in the feet. Rubbing on the back of the heel and tight Achilles tendons can cause an exostosis called a Haglund’s deformity. Chronic plantar fasciitis can give rise to heel spurs as well.

Bone spurs can be small or large. Depending on its location you may or may not notice it on your own, diagnostic imaging includes Xrays & fluoroscopy. Other spurs, however, are painful. They may rub against a tendon or muscle, aggravating and inflaming the tissue and leading to injuries like tendonitis or bursitis. They may pinch against a nerve, causing burning pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the affected area. In a joint, they may actually prevent your bones from moving correctly, limiting your range of motion.

How to Manage Discomfort

Taking care of bone spurs largely depends on the symptoms you’re experiencing as a result of your condition. If the exostosis is painless and doesn’t prevent normal foot functions, it can usually go untreated. The lump will simply be monitored to check for any abnormal growth later. Uncomfortable bony lumps will need to be evaluated and managed. Country Foot Care doctors will use diagnostic images to identify the spur’s size and how it’s impacting your lower limbs. Then our staff can help you begin managing the condition.

Because exostosis is a deformity in your skeleton, conservative treatments work largely to alleviate the pain and prevent the problem from worsening. This means reducing the pressure on the growth and helping maintain your range of motion. Changing your shoes and using custom orthotics may help minimize the pressure on the affected foot bones and correct biomechanical issues that could aggravate the condition. If arthritis plays a role in your spur’s development, you may need to minimize that joint’s motion to prevent the problem from worsening. Pain medication may be needed.  If conservative methods are not helping your discomfort improve, you might need to have the bump surgically removed. This is usually recommended for an exostosis that impairs normal motion or presses against a nerve. Allowing the spur to stay—or get worse—could lead to permanent weakness or deformity, especially if the bump compresses any neurovascular structures.

Bone spurs are relatively harmless bone changes that develop when your skeleton is under pressure. Fortunately, there are conservative ways you can reduce your discomfort, as well as procedures to eliminate the bony growth altogether. Let Country Foot Care help you keep your feet healthy and comfortable. To make an appointment simply call our offices to talk with a member of our helpful staff or submit a request online by clicking the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page.