Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, usually occur along the edges of bones. They can develop on any bone, but are found mainly in joints where two or more bones meet. Bone spurs also form where ligaments, tendons or muscles are attached to the bone.
Bone spurs are caused when bones rub together for a long time, and it is this continued stress that triggers the development of this painful condition. This could be due to inflammation like tendinitis and osteoarthritis. Bone spurs in feet is caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is when the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, at the place where it is attached to the heel bone, becomes inflamed.
Symptoms do not always occur with bone spurs, so there are many people who have them, but are not aware that they have bone spurs. If, however, bone spurs rub against soft tissue or bones, they can cause normal motion in a joint to be extremely painful, or lost entirely. These types of bone spurs are most common in the knees, shoulders, hips, and feet. You might have bone spurs if you are experiencing increased pain in your joints or cannot walk comfortably, and should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Anti-inflammatory medications are normally first used in the treatment of bone spurs, to help ease the pain and reduce the inflammation associated with this condition. Physical therapy in the form of ultrasound treatments, massage, stretching exercises, as well as cold packs, might also be recommended.
An injection into the affected joint, with a steroid such as cortisone, is also used in some cases, to ease the pain of bone spurs. Over-the-counter medications can also be used for relieving the pain associated with the condition.
In cases where the spur is affecting the foot or heel, your doctor might recommend medical devices called orthotics, such as inserts or special pads for shoes, to take the pressure off the affected area.
If none of the above treatments help with the symptoms of bone spurs in feet, then surgery might be considered. The surgery could be to simply remove the bone spurs, but there are cases where this removal of the spurs could be part of a larger surgical procedure, such as joint-replacement.
Since there have been plenty of recent advancements in medications for bone spurs, the prognosis for their treatment is extremely positive. In addition to this, more modern and less invasive surgical procedures mean that the patient recovers faster, and can return to normal activities sooner.
Since they are normally the result of arthritis, there is no particular way in which bone spurs can be prevented. However, the symptoms can be reduced significantly with regular exercise and good eating habits. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the load on the joints, and can also help in preventing painful bone spurs from developing.