Also called osteophytes, bone spurs are an outgrowth or protuberance of bone that may occur along the edges of the bone. While spurs can happens just about anywhere, they are most common in joins where bone meets bone, or parts of the bone where it connects with tendons, ligaments or muscles.
Bone spurs can happen anywhere – spine, fingers, neck, shoulders, hips or knees – but are most common on the feet. They don’t just present as heel spurs on the feet, they can also be found on the toes, the top of the foot or at the arch.
What causes bone spurs?
Prolonged friction, joint problems like osteoarthritis or tendonitis, too much pressure and bone or joint injuries can lead to bone spurs. When your body tries to heal itself a tad overzealously and inadvertently, there’s growth of bone over bone. Degenerative bone diseases like osteoarthritis can cause bone spurs on the neck and spine while increased friction or constant overuse of a joint can cause these bony outgrowths on the shoulder, knee or hip joints. Bony spurs on the feet too can happen in the case of overuse like in the case of dancers or athletes. Tight or ill-fitting shoes are another reason that can cause bone spurs to develop as are stiff ligaments, which cause the body to try and repair itself, resulting in fervent bone growth.
Many times, bone spurs do not present any symptom at all and thus are often revealed when you undergo an X-ray for an unrelated reason. The bone spur may be too small to cause any irritation or friction with another bone, tendon, ligament or muscle. Another reason for the bone spur not causing pain is when it is placed such that it does not come into direct with any internal or external factor. For more information you may check out dermalmedix official website.
But other times, there are plenty of painful symptoms to tip you off of possible bone spurs. Take a look:
Common symptoms of bone spurs?
- Heel Pain
Heel spurs, one of the most common types of bone spurs, tend to be formed along with a condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is when the plantar fascia, a long thin ligament that supports the foot from heel to arch, becomes irritated or inflamed. The inflammation causes the body to try and heal itself, thus inadvertently causing a bone spur where the plantar fascia connects with the heel bone. Since the sole of the foot comes in contact with the floor when you walk, the bone spur irritates the surrounding tissues and causes heel pain. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, while one out of 10 people have heel spurs but only one out of 20 with heel spurs experience pain.
- Knobby Fingers or Toes
Bone spurs are also quite common in fingers and toes. In the toes, they tend to develop due too tight or too uncomfortable shoes worn over extended periods. The constant pressure and friction irritates the toe joints and can cause a bony overgrowth that can be felt and seen as a bump on the skin. Most common on the fifth toe, toe spurs can disappear by itself but painful ones might need minor surgery in order to be filed down.
- Constant Joint Pain
In the case of joints, such as those in the ankle, shoulder, hip and knees and even in the spine, bone spurs can get painful to the extent of interfering with movement on a day-to-day basis. Since these joints contract and expand, rotate and flex and are used all through the waking hours to perform a variety of activities, bone spurs can make using your feet very painful. In the case of knees and ankles, bone spurs may make walking painful. Spurs in the shoulders can interfere in the movement of the shoulder and the arm. Spinal bone spurs can cause pinching of the spinal nerves and cause mild to severe pain, numbness and tingling sensation in the arms and legs.
How are spurs treated?
Unless the symptoms are just too severe to be ignored, most bone spurs are treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medicines and some physical therapy. Usually these non-invasive therapies are effective in solving any pain and symptomatic issues. Sometimes, though, a particularly aggressive spur can cause pain to the extent of affecting motor movements. In such cases (although rare), surgery is required to remove the spur to aid in the healing of the inflamed or injured tissues.
Keep in mind that spur or not, any unexplained pain while walking, motor issues, joint pains or difficulty in flexing of a joint should be addressed by a doctor to rule out any further severity down the road. Spurs by themselves are not a problem, but when they start to press on nerves, grind down on bones and project into muscles, tendons and ligaments, they can cause inflammation, pain and a hindrance in motor movement.
Catch the problem soon enough and there are plenty treatments that can take care of the spur and make the symptoms go away. And don’t forget to keep up with a regular foot care routine that includes trimming toenails and moisturizing those heels daily.